VOD film review: Permission
James R | On 24, Nov 2019
Director: Soheil Beiraghi
Cast: Baran Kosari, Amir Jadidi, Leili Rashidi
Watch Permission online in the UK: Curzon Home Cinema
In 2017, eight Iranian female athletes were banned from leaving the country to attend sporting tournaments. Permission, inspired by true events, brings to life the similar story of a female footballer to rage-inducing effect.
Afrooz (Baran Kosari) is the captain of the international women’s futsal team. She’s 30 years old and has devoted 11 of those to the sport. As we join her, she’s about to lead the team to the AFC Asian Cup final, but when she tries to go to Malaysia for the big game, she finds that she can’t get through security at Tehran airport – because her husband has banned her from leaving the country.
It’s a major blow to Afrooz’s dreams, not to mention a blow to the team itself. But things aren’t that simple, and director Soheil Beiraghi’s script takes the time to explore the range of conflicting views and principles at play. The coach, Ms Noori (Sahar Dolatshahi), supports the sports organisation and its regulations, while her friend Masi (Hoda Zeinolabedin) encourages her to try every possible tactic to convince her husband. Her lawyer, Pante’ea (Leili Rashidi), also recommends trying to find a way to please him.
It’s a delicately complex mix of responses, with people either using Afrooz to their own ends to make wider political points without resolving the problem or focusing on satisfying her partner rather than tackling the law itself – being calm and polite, after all, only perpetuates the patriarchal system.
Baran Kosari is fantastic as Afrooz, moving from an empowered, passionate sporting figure to an exasperated and cowed woman. Amir Jadidi is equally good as her husband, Yaser, a successful TV presenter in his own right, but one who is threatened and angered by his wife’s own career; he alternates between possessiveness and envy, insecurity and resentment, and can’t conceive of her making her own way within a sport without it having something to do with him.
It’s a scathingly sharp portrait of self-centred, male entitlement, which erupts in a sudden car chase – a heart-stopping moment that Soheil Beiraghi contrasts with the slow, gradual process of Iran’s courts, which recalls Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation. Beiraghi directs with a subdued, clean style that doesn’t distract from the frustration of her protagonist, asking nobody’s permission to put Afrooz front and centre where she belongs.
Permission is available in UK cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema.