Once again defying a filmmaking ban set by his home nation of Iran, Jafar Panahi (Taxi, This Is Not a Film) directs and stars in Three Faces, a thoughtful exploration of three Iranian women at different points in their acting careers.
Marziyeh Rezaie (appearing as herself) is an aspiring actor whose parents have refused to let her attend a prestigious acting conservatory in Tehran, where she has recently been accepted. After famous actor Behnaz Jafari (also appearing as herself) receives a video from Rezaie pleading for help, Jafari and Panahi set off on a road trip to a small village outside Tehran to look for her. On their journey together, the two learn about Shahrazade, a former dancer and actor who, after experiencing years of harsh treatment by film directors, has taken to living as a recluse and encouraging young girls to seek independence.
As in his previous films, Panahi creates an undercurrent of dark humour as he approaches difficult and sometimes harsh realities from a humanistic perspective. Throughout the film, the central theme of challenging traditional gender roles—especially those involving female independence—is at the forefront of the journey of each of the three subjects. Despite their differences in age, circumstance and aspirations, the women we encounter in Three Faces hold a common ground in their determination to be heard and their resourcefulness in fighting for their own liberation.
“Three Faces is typical of the canny director’s output in the way it’s modest but profound, leisurely but urgent, a portrait of a country disguised as a meandering road movie.” (Steve Pond, TheWrap)
“3 Faces may be modest and low-key on the surface, but its surprises are worth preserving, its insights casually profound.” (Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times)