The eponymous Leila in Saeed Roustayi sprawling, ferocious and enthralling Leila’s Brothers – in an ironic elucidation of art imitating life (and vice versa) – was as gutsy, freethinking, fearlessly outspoken and defiantly anti-patriarchal as the acclaimed Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti, who’s a feminist and political activist, and courted arrest for her dissent during the Mahsa Amini protests. That she wasn’t just outstanding in it, but even gave a standout performance – amidst a cast that was terrific too – complemented the political underpinnings with artistic merit. The film was as riveting as a thriller, and – in what has drawn analogies with the likes of Rocco and His Brothers and the Godfather saga – formally audacious in its intricate juxtaposition of expansive attributes – complex intergenerational fault-lines, familial conflicts, emotional volatility – with intensely intimate domesticity. 40-year-old working woman Leila stays at her riotously chaotic family’s ramshackle house in Tehran, takes care of the household while also managing domestic chores, confronts everyone whenever needed, and strives to secure the future for her unemployed brothers – the serious but timid Alireza (Navid Mohammadzadeh) who loses his factory job in the excellent opening sequence that underscored the country’s economic downturn precipitated by US sanctions; morbidly obese Parviz (Farhad Aslani) who keeps begetting children and works as a lowly janitor; the scoundrel Manouchehr (Payman Maadi) who pursues shady schemes; and the hunk Farhad (Mohammad Alimohammadi) – who she loves fiercely and intends to get them financially settled. Their narcissistic, selfish, shadow-chasing and stubborn-as-mule father (Saeed Poursamimi), meanwhile, is intoxicated by the idea of being crowned patriarch of the clan, that threatens to jeopardize the plans devised by Leila, who’s prudent, resolute and ready to do whatever it takes for her brothers.
Director: Saeed Roustayi
Genre: Drama/Family Drama