MIFF Review: Pig (خوک)

Mani Haghighi (A Dragon Arrives, 50 Kilos of Cherries) returns with a raucous, farcical black comedy that is another example of how vibrant and wild Iranian cinema is. A rapid fire and frequently hilarious opening half loses momentum in the second but brings it home with its bitingly satirical big finish. Pig is a lot of fun!

The premise for this film is the stuff of gold: A serial killer is beheading celebrated film directors in Tehran and blacklisted film maker Hasan is upset he hasn’t been targeted. Why? Because he’s a better film maker than the victims. I told you. Gold!

Grizzled 50 year old Hasan Kasami (Hasan Majuni), an established film maker whose been blacklisted by the government, is in a state of perpetual stress. He’s forced to direct commercials for pesticides whilst his leading lady is being courted for a younger film maker’s new film. Adding to his pressure is his slightly off her rocker mother, his growing jealousy for not being able to work, a pushy fangirl desperate to work for him and a killer that’s offing his colleagues … but not him!

Played with zest and heightened farce, Pig comes at you thick and fast. It happily skewers film makers and the film making process, whilst never degrading it. Refreshingly, the film is populated with strong female characters who offset Hasan’s frazzled rages.

Dipping its toes in absurdism, Pig works strongest in its opening hour where the hysteria coupled with the frustration are in high form. When it switches gear into more of a serial killer thriller, Pig does lose its edge. Thankfully, the closing coda is so strong and bitingly satirical that it brings the film home.

A fairly wild and unchained ride that’s high on comedy, commentary and flights of fancy, Pig is a reminder that the arts are alive and well in Iran and here’s to hoping the industry keeps on truckin’!