Trials & Tribulations of a life in advertising

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sex and Philosophy

He is turning forty today. With lit candles in his car, he is cruising around the city, looking for street musicians to join him in the celebration. But the big event is slated for the afternoon. He’s been calling up four of his former lovers for a rendezvous in his dance class. This afternoon they’ll discover that they were sharing his love simultaneously. This afternoon, the narrator in Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Sex and Philosophy will share and discover the anatomy of love. This afternoon, the secrets he shares will get counterbalanced by the intimacies he discovers, in a breathtaking account of inclusion and isolation.

In an age, where Iran is in the news for all the wrong reasons, this remarkably original filmmaker, tutored on the streets of Teheran, circumvents the stereotype to deliver an inventive reportage of human desires. And, thank you Zee Studio for an indulging us to an Oscar feast that goes beyond the clichés of Hollywood.

The narrative takes us through the beginning and end of each of his affairs, with the protagonists defining it in their own ways. When Maryam, the airhostess he meets and falls in love during one of cinema’s greatest solo flight fantasies probes him, he narrates his central dilemma: “Four girlfriends at the same time? Is this love?” “It’s a search, Maryam. I found a piece of my heart with each one of you”.

Love is just a euphemism for enduring happiness in Sex and Philosophy. Beyond the narrowing confines of intimacy, what he seeks is individual bliss, something that’s finite and where demand is currently outrunning supply. He knows exactly how long he’s been happy in these 40 years. His constant companion of a chronometer tells him it’s been roughly 2 hours. Weighing his existence vis-à-vis butterflies that live their entire life in a single day, he knows the search will never get over. Because in the last 40 years, he hasn’t lived a single butterfly day. And no one is surprised. Least of all, the narrator.

And in a mystical twist to his odyssey, he realizes that one of his intimate girl friends has been doing the same. That she too has been seeking love from many sources at the same time. Chaotic, yet content, left to his own chiselled fantasies, he can only mourn, “I sought love all my life/but found loneliness/So let everyone light their own candle of loneliness”. Using ballet as a visual accompaniment to the dancing narration of personal fantasies and shared passion, Makhmalbaf sculpts a cinematic odyssey that delves deep into the desires and obsessions in the lives of urbanised and lonesome adults. “In the cold streets of the city there’s no echo except farewell, farewell”.


Blogger cherubicgurl said...

educative, quite so

11:31 AM


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