Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Cyclist, by Mohsen Makhmalbaf

   A man's wife in dying at the hospital. He's an illegal immigrant in Iran, and he needs to pays for his wife's hospital bills. He tries to do this by digging wells with the help of their son, but work opportunities are erratic and the wages for an illegal worker are minimal. He won't make it.

   He used to be a cyclist back in Afganistan when he was young. Through the help of an acquaintance, and financed by some of the town's crooks, he accepts a challenge. If he can ride the bike non-stop for a whole week, her hospital bills will be paid.

   There is a whole business build around his riding. Competing groups bet on the result and try sabotage. Poor people pay to see him trying. Different groups have self serving interpretations for the event.

   He feels weaker and weaker near the end of this harsh week. He needs to hold his eys open with matches. When he finally made it, he just can't stop his bike. Music gets louder, and the beautiful arabic characters roll on the screen.

   It's a beautiful movie, filmed in a really rudimentary way. A little bit too melodramatic. But a really interesting story.

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