"Panahi brilliantly examines his oft-explored themes of feminism and Iranian culture through natural dialogue and a central mystery"
3 Faces opens with a video of a young actress confessing to her camera phone before appearing to hang herself. The video we soon learn was sent to actress Behnaz Jafari whom, along with director Jafar Panahi, travel to the young actress’s village to investigate the authenticity of the seemingly tragic footage.
With a true story forming the basis of the film and Jafari and Panahi playing themselves, the lines between reality and fiction are extremely blurred, as is so often the case with Panahi who least we forget, is still banned from making films in his native Iran.
To try and work out what is real and what is not is to miss the point though – fiction and reality are intertwined in the way that they reflect society and Panahi brilliantly examines his oft-explored themes of feminism and Iranian culture through natural dialogue and a central mystery that you somewhat know is never likely to be fully revealed.
This does result in the central strand not quite holding for the full running time, but this is none the less another worthy addition to Panahi’s filmography. The insight is not quite as sharp as Taxi Tehran and the memorable uplifting Panahi found in Offside was never likely given the dark starting point but Panahi’s work remains important and fascinating. That it won’t be screened in Iran is a genuine shame, but that Panahi still manages to get his work out is something for which we should be grateful.