Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tribeca ’13: Taboor

It is the near future, but you will not see any flying cars.  Instead, it is a world of technological stagnation and social isolation.  For the unnamed Iranian protagonist, the future is now in Vahid Vakilifar’s Taboor (trailer here), which screens as a Viewpoints selection of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.

Forget the tinfoil hat.  Concerned by electromagnetic waves, the solitary man has tailored himself a tinfoil hazmat suit and lined his bedroom with aluminum.  By night he plies his trade.  He is an exterminator—not euphemistically, but in the Burroughs tradition.  At each stop, he hardly talks to his clients, despite the odd events that happen.  He seems to be a decent person, considering he always acts in a helpful manner.  However, good karma has yet to come back around to him.

Consisting of a long quiet takes with almost no dialogue, Taboor is driven more by image than plot or character.  In fact, it rather invites viewers to impose their own narrative on Vakilifar’s loose narrative structure.  Granted, that is not what most folks go to the movies for, but it can be a convenient strategy for a film produced under a rigid system of social controls.  Still, the weird developments at each stop almost echoes Léos Carax’s Holy Motors, but without the sense of playful gamesmanship.

This is definitely a film for self-selecting festival regulars.  However, they will be intrigued by Vakilifar’s visual sensibilities. The coolly detached way he films contemporary Iranian locations (tunnels, boiler rooms and the like) gives them an otherworldly vibe, not unlike some scenes in Godard’s Alphaville.

Taboor is a striking portrait of a man’s nearly absolute alienation in a dystopian world.  Hmm, one wonders where Valikifar gets his ideas.  This is unquestionably a demanding film, but there is a there there.  Recommended for the hardiest of cineastes, Taboor screens again tonight (4/23) and Saturday (4/27) as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.