Tribeca 2021: Berkreviews Ballad of a White Cow (2021)

Ballad of a White Cow (2021) written and directed by Maryam Moghadam, who also stars in the film, and Behtash Sanaeeha (plus Mehrdad Kouroshniya also has a writing credit), is an impressive film that is sad hopefully and sad again. Mina’s (Moghadam) husband is executed at the beginning of the film for murder. A year later, Mina is called in with her brother-in-law (Pouria Rahimi Sam) and told that new evidence and a confession have come to light, proving her husband was innocent. She is offered the normal compensation, but Mina is to destroyed over the fact that her life was turned upside down by the system and demands a personal apology. 

Mina is facing tons of problems from a societal point of view, being a widow with a deaf child. Her father-in-law and brother-in-law aren’t making her situation any easier, threatening all sorts of things of her. Then, there are also her finances weighing on her heavily. Ultimately, it is shocking to see that Mina is even able to get out of bed in the morning. Of course, this is probably why she is so quick to accept help from a stranger named Reza (Alireza Sani Far), who shows up to give her money he claims he owed her husband. It is the introduction to Reza that makes the story really kick up a notch. 

Much of this film is shot from a set camera with minimal movement. This choice can often lead to a film feeling slow or too much like a play, but it really works in this film. The composition of each shot is layered by shooting through doorways or framing the characters in interesting ways based on their surroundings. More so, once the camera moves to follow Reza for the first time, we know something big is coming, because the camera had been so stationary it is impossible not to notice the tracking shot when it begins. 

The commentary on the system is non-judgemental but leaves much for the audience to process. There are numerous themes at play, and none of them have simple answers. It is long been a goal of mine to branch out into more world cinema, and this was a great entry from Iran. If you are given the opportunity to see Ballad of a White Cow, I think it is definitely worth your time. For me, the film earns the Must See rating.

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