A FEW KILOS OF DATES FOR A FUNERAL (Saman Salur, 2006)

Saman Salur’s brilliant black-and-white Chand kilo khorma baraye marassem-e tadfin, from Iran, is emotional and tremendously moving, even as its affinity with Samuel Beckett and early Roman Polanski is apparent.
     The principal setting, beset with wintry snow, is an unpatronized gas station in the middle of nowhere. Mr. Sadry prays to God for more snow so that he might retain longer the companionship of a female corpse from a car crash. Yadi, a slight, much younger man, is Sadry’s assistant. Frustrated, Sadry regularly beats Yadi, who he is convinced steals from him. Abbas, a postman, wants to get his brakeless bicycle replaced with a motorcycle. Yadi is in love with a woman whose face he has never seen, except for her eyes, and to whom, by special financial arrangement, Abbas delivers Yadi’s love letters at some distance; the woman never responds. Abbas himself steals Yadi’s letters, passing them off as his own, and eventually marries the resident at the place to which Yadi addressed the letters, although he insists that the woman to whom Yadi wrote is someone else—someone who has moved to Tehran. Whether true or not, this explanation stops Yadi from beating up Abbas’s mentally challenged younger brother, and at the last Yadi is headed for Tehran.
     Lonely, for the most part financially challenged male lives, then, occupy the center of this bleak, absurdist black comedy that finds two of the three fellows feeling robbed, and the third robbing at least words and possibly the woman whom (absurdly) Yadi has declared the love of his life. Here, the characters do not ache in love but, rather, ache to love, suggesting, perhaps, that today’s Iran compels men to live at a remove from their feelings and humanity.

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