Offside

"Excellent"

Offside Review


Jafar Panahi's Offside still turns over and over in my head, even as this review is being typed. Panahi's films, consistently banned in Iranian theaters, are genre exercises that are rather uninterested in genre mechanics. His last film, Crimson Gold, was a crime story with a climax that was set as an ellipsis to the rest of the story. In that film, he studied the reality of certain action, allowing long moments of narrative to be spent on things as seemingly inconsequential as a pizza delivery botched by a police department stakeout or a disturbing detour into a customer's private life when he can't get girls to come over.

Further progressing in his abilities, Panahi turns the girl-power fable into political discourse in Offside. More than anything, what sticks out about the film is that nothing sticks out. The central character of Crimson Gold, an overweight pizza deliverer betrothed to his best friend's sister, gave the guise of narrative construction but in Offside, Panahi's canvas is broader and much more fluid.

At a soccer stadium in Tehran, a group of girls are held in a makeshift prison by a group of naïve male guards. See, it's Iranian law that women are not allowed in any public sports arena, but as always, the gals won't be held down. Donning boy outfits, soldier uniforms, and several other types of bro-worthy regalia, the girls brave dire punishments and some harsh words from their parents to be able to see their team go head-to-head with Bahrain in the World Cup qualifying match.

A serious sports film with political and sexual designs? A feminine-minded prison film in microcosm terms? Offside confounds the viewer in its simplicity, but there's so much going on in its contained universe that to call it anything but supremely dense would be an outright lie. Panahi, using non-actors as always, coaxes out natural, breathtaking performances from the guards and the prisoners. His biggest trick, however, is inverting the space of the stadium: the barriers that make up the makeshift prison outside the stadium give a claustrophobic mis-en-scene while the few shots of the inner stadium look as wide and open as the wild blue yonder.

In the film's key scene, one of the girls, in desperate need of a toilet, is led to the bathroom by one of the more daft guards of the group. Though he attempts to keep an eye on her, the rush of the soccer fans and his inability to keep an eye on her allows the girl to escape into the crowd and catch a few minutes of the game. Like Cool Hand Luke returning to tell George Kennedy and his compatriots about his days outside the pen, the girl returns before the game's end and holds her peers in rapture recalling the brief amount of game she witnessed.

It's in this moment that Panahi shows his greatest strength of will, never delineating from the idea of the girls as a cohesive unit. Battle of the sexes? Well-trodden territory that few filmmakers can bring sincere insight to. Offside is an audacious mini-panorama that is strikingly proficient at turning small spaces into entire galaxies. It's old hat to Panahi, but he's so damn good at it.

I'm gettin' outta here... to watch soccer!



Offside

Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Friday 26th May 2006

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 79 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: Jonas Karlsson as Anders, as Duncan Miller, as Åsa, as Tommy, Göran Ragnerstam as Kent, Ingvar Hirdwall as Boston, Georgi Staykov as Branko, Björn Bengtsson as Peter

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

It's been 15 years since Vin Diesel walked away from his XXX role, killing off...

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Advertisement
Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.