Heshmat (Saeed Poorsamimi) has four sons and a daughter, and desperately wants to become the patriarch of his extended family. Alireza (Navid Mohammadzadeh) is the latest of the children to lose his job, when the factory he worked at not only goes out of business but refuses to pay its workers their outstanding wages. Meanwhile, Manouchehr (Payman Maadi) gets involved in a Ponzi scheme and tries to get his brothers on board. The sharpest witted member of the family, Leila (Taraneh Alidoosti), sees a viable way to involve all siblings in a business model, but she is at a disadvantage: she is a woman.
Written and directed by Saeed Roustayi, the Iranian contribution to this year’s main competition at Cannes seeks to dismantle old traditions that do more harm than good. The family’s father places the idea of glory and status above his offspring’s very livelihood and is willing to lie and manipulate them to get his way. The intimate portrait of this chaotic family illuminates greater truths and politics affecting a number of families. Set during Donald Trump’s presidency, the US-Iran nuclear ideal is discussed on television in the background of a scene, unimposing yet distinctly present. At later stages of the film, these historical events will become a consequential plot point.
Leila’s Brothers dedicates itself to a realistically staged family dynamic, so much so that, as in real life, the domestic arguments go in circles and become a tad repetitive. The wedding at the centre of this debate finally culminates in showing what has up to this point been talked about, and its execution is simply marvellous. Every one of the characters has their own individual behaviours but the most resonant implementation involves their different dance moves at the reception.
The cast brilliantly feed off each other’s performances and easily create the best ensemble of the festival.
Leila’s Brothers does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.