Iranian Film Festival NY 2019 Review: PIG

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

From writer/director Mani Haghighi comes this often hilarious and surreal satire that pulls few punches when it comes to social commentary and the very human obsession with fame.  I was somewhat taken aback with this film which presents some seriously violent content, but seems to ably spin it in a way that audience will have no choice, but to laugh.  The film features some straight-faced performances by an extraordinary cast which help make this slightly disturbing movie fly.  The movie is getting a special release at the IFC Center in New York on February 1 and I must highly encourage those who have the opportunity to go see it.

Hassan Majooni stars as critically acclaimed filmmaker Hasan Kasmai.  Though Hasan is a well respected filmmaker, he has been blacklisted by the government and is only able to make a living by making commercials.  When an unidentified serial killer begins murdering some of his lesser respected contemporaries, the dejected Hassan begins to wonder why he has not been targeted.  Making Hassan feel even less loved, his muse of an actress and former lover Shiva (Leila Hatami) has decided to act in the new film by a hack director.  As Hassan’s ego takes a brutal beating and social media eventually turns on him, he hatches a scheme to win back his fame.

At first, I didn’t quite know what to make of this entry at the first annual Iranian Film Festival in New York.  Mani Haghighi swings a pendulum of shock and comedy a bit forcefully, but the movie mostly works well in a very entertaining and smart way.  Haghighi does struggle to maintain this balancing act. but sticks the landing in the end.  Tonal issues aside, I rather enjoyed this exercise in satirical and farcical madness that definitely transcends borders and cultures.

The cast is phenomenal in their realistic performances with Hassan Majooni being the obvious standout. This lead actor genuinely owns his role and performs it with much passion, emotion, and earnestness.  He is a talented driving force behind this movie and I would love to see him in other films.  I honestly cannot think of any weak links either.  All of the other cast members play their parts well.

So, if one happens to be in New York City this weekend, and they have time to spare for a movie, I must strongly recommend PIG.  I am sure that Americans don’t often get to watch very much Iranian cimema and this movie is a fine example of some wild-eyed craziness and sharp-witted commentary that Iran has to offer.

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