“180 Degree Rule at times feels like a telling drama about mistrust and deceit, but what lies under the surface is a morally abrupt message.”
There is little joy or optimism to take away when watching 180 Degree Rule. In its 83 minutes, it hits at the hardest spots and seems to gradually get worse for everyone involved. Taking place in Tehran, Iran – the film follows Sara (Sahar Dolatshahi), a school teacher working in the capital city. Her character is stern and makes her opinions and decisions clear. Within the first few minutes, a worried schoolgirl confides in Sara to reveal that she’s pregnant, worried about what to do. She wants to tell her mum and is unsure about whether to get an abortion, a procedure that is illegal in their home country. Still, Sara tells the girl to go by herself or with friends without telling her family because of the consequences she may face.
This strict decision-making is clear in everything that Sara does. For example, later on she wants to attend a wedding, much to her husband’s dismay. With her daughter feeling ill over the past few days and her husband ‘forbidding’ it, she goes anyway, taking her daughter with her. It’s clear that there’s an oppression here for Sara and for other women of her stature in this part of the world. She smokes by herself and when driving on a highway, and her husband blames her when a potential collision happens after a motorbike pulls out. But the wedding turns out to be a rich and sweet affair, by far the highest point in the movie before everything turns sour.
The morning after, Sara wakes up to one of the worst things that could ever happen to a parent. She experiences grief and trauma to the highest possibility, confiding in her family who are all as distraught as she is. But the main issue supposedly is what to tell her husband. She’s aware that she lied to him about the wedding and doesn’t know how to cover her tracks. Rather than tell the truth, she lies and takes her family with her in hiding the truth. The lie grows and grows until their marriage breaks – resulting in a moment of domestic abuse when her husband demands the truth. It’s at this point where the film goes on a trail of no return, once looking at women’s independence and freedom changes to morals of following orders and obeying husbands and the law.
Sara becomes an emotionless drone after this, hardly speaking or reacting to anyone around her. Her parents label it as shock, but to me it seems the film is trying to punish her for her apparent misdeeds. She receives an update on the schoolgirl from the beginning that also brings tragic news to Sara. The film is just torturing her at this point, all because she decided to do what she wanted to do rather than listening to barking orders.
180 Degree Rule at times feels like a telling drama about mistrust and deceit, but what lies under the surface is a morally abrupt message that should not be praised in 2020. It is a film that begins with promise that falls fast when reaching the turning point of its second act.
Director: Farnoosh Samadi
Producer: Ali Mosaffa
Cast: Sadaf Asgari, Sahar Dolatshahi, Azita Hajian
Header Image Courtesy of IMDb