Oh, poor Hassan. A celebrated and amusingly belligerent film director, he has been blacklisted by Iranian authorities, and must now make TV commercials until such time as he falls back into favour. One of these commercials – an interestingly and inventively eroticised advertisement for pesticide, like an insect-fetishist’s fever dream – is displayed over the opening credits.
Filmmaker Mani Haghighi last competed at Berlinale with 2016’s excellent A Dragon Arrives! While Pig doesn’t exactly scale the heights of his previous work, it’s still an impressively deft juggling act with overt – though organic – farcical elements. An Iranian auteur making an Iranian film that references Iranian directors being blacklisted could easily be a minefield of sorts, but the whole affair is joyously silly, and while it deals with matters of production, the issue of blacklisting filmmakers is only mentioned, as opposed to being discussed.
The feature tasks itself with taking a number of discordant items and making them gel. Though he is grappling with domestic dramas as well as his precarious career, Hassan’s true concern is with a serial killer wreaking havoc and decapitating victims all over Tehran. But these victims have been selected most carefully. If this murderer is exclusively targeting filmmakers, why is Hassan’s head still firmly attached to his stout frame? Isn’t he good enough anymore? There’s a moment of absolute hilarity when Hassan’s mother assures her son that he’s the best director in the world, and thus most certainly deserving of being brutally murdered.
In the leading role, Hassan Majooni is perplexingly adorable. A man in his 40s, he has the petulance of a toddler, and yet there is something so genial about this self-obsessed Pig. The confidently disparate nature of the narrative takes a not-entirely-unpredictable turn when authorities suspect that Hassan – one of the last filmmakers with a head – is the culprit. While it’s not as substantial as his previous output, director Mani Haghighi’s elaborately constructed Pig makes up for it by being hilarious.
Khook (Pig) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival 2018.