Taxi13 Oct 2015
Somewhat like Steve Jobs, my interest was first piqued about Taxi when I heard Jafar Panahi was back making a new film in Iran and the main conceit was that he’d imitate a taxi driver and capture life in Iran as it played out on a routine day. That’s a great elevator pitch. However, after this initial similarity, the two projects diverge completely. Panahi proceeds in this film to take you through vignettes of every day life in Tehran in a stripped down, real cinema style, including some jarring highs and lows. By the end, I was along for the ride of wherever Panahi wanted to go next.
Much like what Wild Tales did last year for contemporary Argentinian society, Taxi gives us a glimpse into life in Iran today. A few years ago I lived in Dubai with a roommate from Tehran. He was a big film and tv fan like me, so we bonded over movies. His descriptions of how easy it was for bootlegged DVDs to make their way around Tehran, how he could get his hands on all the latest films and tv were well reflected in Taxi. While watching Panahi depict this bootlegging on screen, and keeping in mind that Panahi himself is officially forbidden from making and distributing films, I wondered how much of all this the Iranian regime knows about and let’s happen. As with most authoritarian regimes, there seems to be a level of mutual suspension of disbelief that both members of society and members of the government partake in. After a while reality becomes reinforced by the complicity of the actors. This point was not lost on Panahi, and it can be felt throughout this film.