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Paints An Intriguing But Bleak Picture — Empty Nets (UK Muslim Film Festival)

2 min read
The cast of Empty Nets on a motorbike

There are two things that Amir (Hamid Reza Abbasi) loves more than anything else — the ocean and his devoted girlfriend Narges (Sadaf Asgari). However, life plays a cruel hand to Amir. While he is trying to make a good impression with his girlfriend's significantly more wealthy family, he loses his job. His life is then led down a path that he hadn't planned for. A recession in the country makes it difficult to find a new job and he is forced to find work within illegal avenues.

A fishery that operates by exploiting its staff with long hours and bad pay is where Amir finally lands a job. Soon he works out that there is money to be made in night time activities. It involves the fishing of endangered sturgeon for their well sought after caviar. The pursuit of money and impressing Narges family starts to have the opposite effect.

The film paints a very much bleak picture of Iranian life. Amir's fellow shipmates are damning of the country they live in and would rather leave than to stay. It doesn't focus too much on the political situation of the state but rather on the domestic day to day life. The cinematography creates this mood through dark murky imagery, colour is mostly absent.

The lead Abbasi plays an effective transformative role. He begins the film as a morally decent and law-abiding citizen. However, as the narrative progresses his character turns darker as he strives to do everything in his power in the name of love. The relationship between the two lovers is perhaps the most striking part of the film. The ever-growing disenchantment that Narges feels for her boyfriend's change of character pushes him away. The moral of this story is seemingly to be yourself, something Amir is adamant to be anything but.

The story reaches climax when Narges's father arranges for her to meet a wealthy potential match, which sends Amir into a state of anxiety. It leads Amir to make some rash decisions to keep her close to him. Initially he was reluctant but with the changing circumstances of Narge's suitor, he decides to help his shipmate out in being smuggled out of the country. It is at this point in the picture that the film really heats up and keeps the audience gripped as to what might happen next.

Overall, this is an interesting film that paints a vivid picture of modern Iranian society and the lives of the people that live within it. In director Behrooz Karamizade debut feature, Empty Nets, it could be just the start of an illustrious career in film. With a standout performance from Hamid Reza Abbasi, Empty Nets, is well worth a watch.

Empty Nets screened at 2024.