Iranian cinema is enjoying something of a moment in the sun.
"Football Under Cover", "A Separation", "No-one Knows About Persion Cats" and, I guess, "Persepolis"have all brought attention to the creative talent and culture of this country in recent years.
"Modest Reception" is not a documentary about women's football like "Football Under Cover".
"Modest Reception" isn't about the underground music scene or the universality of the adolescent experience like "...Persian Cats".
"Modest Reception" isn't a cartoon like "Persepolis".
"Modest Reception" is about love, family, loss, the nature of Iranian society...so it's just like "A Separation".
Except "Modest Reception" is nothing like "A Separation".
This is a dark, bleakly comic and, at times, genuinely disturbing film.
A couple (who may be married or not) travel through the northern region of Iran distributing huge sums of money from the back of their car. At first it looks like this is motivated by no other reason than for the couples own amusement but as the film progresses it becomes clear that there is a very definite agenda behind their actions.
Each of the people who receives money pays a price for it...they lose a bit of dignity, they sacrifice their principles, their faith takes a battering and, in one truly bleak moment a father leaves the corpse of his stillborn child to be devoured by wolves in exchange for several million rial. Similarly the "benefactors" also slowly find themselves stripped of their own dignity, the wild amusement of their earliest exchanges is devoured by a darkness that neither of them can throw any light on.
Not an easy watch...but one guaranteed to make you think.