offside
World Cinema

Offside directed by Jafar Panahi

offside A light hearted look at the absurdity of restricting women from seeing football in Iran.

Even though its a concept that seems to be far removed from the people who have never faced social restrictions to any high degree and as a consequence would look at the tribulations of the girls in the movie as a mere curiosity, the fact is that such absurdity exist and perhaps the only way to understand or accommodate it in our world view is to cast humour upon it. And that is done brilliantly in this movie.

The girls in the movie are as rebellious  and obstinate in their passion for the game as anywhere else in the world. And this gives them a charming familiarity that the viewer will readily identify with. They don’t give a damn to the bearded ayatollahs who proclaim the game to be unwatchable by women. But rebellion by them is nothing like a revolutionary fervour, nor are they the sorts looking to actively change the society by taking to arms or ballot. All they want to do is watch the game and cheer their country to the world cup.

The most humorous aspect of the movie comes when the bunch of girls are caught and kept under guard. The guards don’t have their heart in the job and don’t really care for the rules except that their job depends on it. Dig deeper and they probably don’t believe it themselves. Most of them are just boys just keen to finish their military service and get on with their lives. To them the girls are a nuisance that they don’t really understand and cant really control. The girls themselves keep alternating between threatening, abusing and pleading with the guards for anything between a pee (with the funny situation, there being nooffside_08 women’s toilet) to trying to get a commentary of the game out of guards standing near the gate.

Finally when their team are on the verge of getting to the world cup, everyone forgets their dilemmas and the absurdities…so all in all, a fitting happy ending to the movie

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