POET OF THE WASTES
Directed by Mohammad Ahmadi, 80 minutes, 2005, Persian with English subtitles
Want to turn an average evening into a delightful one? Try watching Poet of the Wastes from Iran. The Chaplinesque protagonist captures our heart early on in the story with his sweet naiveté and idealism – and with hardly a spoken word. Persian dance, the love of poetry, and the necessity of taking rigid tests in religion, politics, and science before being hired as a Street Cleaner, make the movie specific to Iranian culture. But the pain and pull of unrequited love, the fight to maintain dignity while living with broken dreams in poverty, and the loneliness while living in the midst of millions – all feels universal.
The pacing, the humor, and the distinct definition of each character and scene make this film successful and a satisfying experience. So I sing praises to the director, Mohammad Ahmadi. However, the final “ah-ha” comes during the film credits when I read the name of the screenwriter: the well-known Iranian filmmaker-activist Moshen Makhmalbaf.