Permission (Aragh-e Sard)
Afrooz (Baran Kosari) has almost made it. After over a decade’s hard work and defying the odds on the futsal pitch, her captaincy has led to Iran qualifying for the final of the Asian Nations Cup, set to be hosted in Malaysia. However, there’s just one problem – the law of the land is that a woman needs her spouse’s permission to travel, and Afrooz’s husband Yasser (Amir Jadidi) refuses to let his wife leave to achieve greatness. The drama escalates into a court battle.
It’s surprising that Soheil Beiraghi’s Permission doesn’t have its origins in theatre, for his monologue-heavy dialogue and long takes suggest the influence of the stage. More of a written storyteller than a visual one – even the futsal sequences are covered basically – the filmmaker seems less concerned with being entertaining (contrasting with the charm of Jafar Panahi’s related feature Offside) than with being didactic. Whilst Permission doesn’t claim to be based on a true story, the keenly observed script suggests it is based on true stories, serving as a paradigmatic tale of an unfair norm.
So, whilst there’s little formula, there’s plenty of frankness. Every character – including the protagonist’s inconsiderate other half – is roundly realised, making for a deeply humane tale that’s hard to predict. We want to believe that things are going to be okay at the end, based on the way mainstream narrative cinema has conditioned us, but the messy intertwining of legal and moral stances makes it difficult to believe.
Permission arrives around the same time as the divorce movie Marriage Story, wherein auteur Noah Baumbach occasionally affords his male counterpart the more sympathetic beats, writing from his own perspective. More impressively, as a man himself, Beiraghi deftly avoids falling into the same trap. In Permission, Beiraghi has delivered an accomplished feature that speaks truth to power.
Permission (Aragh-e Sard) is released in select cinemas on 22nd November 2019.
Watch the trailer for Permission (Aragh-e Sard) here: