Cannes 2016 – A Certain Regard
Tehran's air pollution has reached the maximum level because of thermal inversion. Niloofar is an unmarried 35-year-old seamstress who lives with her mother but busy with her own shop. When doctors say her mother must leave Tehran for the sake of her respiratory health, Niloofar’s brother and family elders decide that she must move away to accompany her mother. Niloofar is the youngest and still single. She has always obeyed their orders, but this time she must stand up for herself.
A moving social drama from the acclaimed Iranian director of THE RULE OF ACCIDENT.
An upbeat tale of woman power... A woman takes charge in Behnam Behzadi’s smoggy Tehran drama... Ostensibly referring to thermal inversion, a meteorological condition causing air pollution, it’s a loaded term that also hints at the turning back of the casually exploited heroine as she rethinks things and starts making decisions on her own. If at first this looks like an object lesson in how Iranian women are taken for granted and used like chattel by any big brother in the vicinity, by the end of the story things have taken an upbeat turn, making for a satisfying and even surprising finale... Typical for Iranian films these days, everyone is very secretive to the point of outright lies, and they beat around the bush when they should be facing up to facts. The constant phone calls that circle the drama like mosquitoes only make matters worse. The supporting cast lends strong support, particularly Shirin Yazdanbakhsh as the mother and the wide-eyed Setareh Hosseini as young Saba, who sees all the games the adults are playing.
— Deborah Young, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
In “Inversion,” the pollution sets off a chain reaction of familial discord that closes in on the heroine, Niloofar (Sahar Dowlatshahi), until it forces her to find a new source of air... Sahar Dowlatshahi is a beautiful and dynamic actress with an open, laughing face and darkly expressive doe eyes that have a way of dominating every shot they’re in. Under her head scarf, her hair lays against her forehead in a way that gives her a striking resemblance to Audrey Hepburn — and this is one case where an actress’s impish radiance serves a vital thematic function. The audience looks at Niloofar and feels so connected to her eager vitality that we want her to be everything that she can be... Behzadi works in a vintage Iranian mode of what might be called the clandestine suspense of the everyday. Nothing that happens in “Inversion” is overstated or even overtly dramatized, yet there’s an invisible tension that pulls us through the movie...
— Owen Gleiberman, VARIETY
Behzadi’s film is a lucid depiction of life in modern-day Teheran and the underlying rules of Iranian society... A portrait of Iranian society, Varoonegi probes an issue regarding women and what expectations the community has of them, while being an essentially plot-focused story. With this family drama revolving tightly around the main characters, Behzadi stays very close to a specific case – Niloofar’s... Varoonegi is non-feminist without being anti-feminist: it appears to show a (non-feminist) truth (the opposition between family duty and personal ambitions) without defending it. Obedience and family feuds are shown as part of the struggle against which the main character tries to rebel, but ultimately the solution does not take a step towards overcoming the confrontation.
— Jasmin Valjas, THE UPCOMING (UK)