UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE

UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE

(director/writer: Matthew Rankin; screenwriters: Ila Firouzabadi, Pirouz Nemati; cinematographer: Isabelle Stachtchenko; editor: Xi Feng; music: Amir Amiri, Christophe Lamarche-Ledoux; cast: Rojina Esmasili (Negin), Saba Vahedyousefi (Nazgol), Danielle Fichaud (Monseur Cast), Sobhan Javadi (Omid), Pirouz Nemati (Massoud), Matthew Rankin (Mathieu), Mani Soleymanlou (Monseur Bilod); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sylvain Corbeil; Metafilms; 2024-Canada-in Farsi/French with English subtitles)

“The genial film has cult film potential.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The indie Canadian director Matthew Rankin (“The Twentieth Century”) co-writes with

Ila Firouzabadi and Pirouz Nemati this absurdist satirical comedy. It features an Iranian cast and a fair amount of strange visuals and odd takes (a store that only sells Kleenex). The genial film has cult film potential. It’s basically a story of Iranian immigrants assimilating into the Western culture while being a heavy influence on the Canadian French and English culture.

In Winnipeg, the female school classmates Negin (Rojina Esmaeili) and Nazgol (Saba Vahedyousefi) discover a 500 Riel banknote frozen in the ice. “We can buy so many socks!” exclaims Nazgol. So they borrow an ax from the nearby turkey dealer to remove it from the ice.

Rankin attempts to weave a single tale into three stories that blend together.

The first follows the above named children trying to dig a frozen bill out of the snow. The second follows Rankin himself playing a character who attempts to regain a connection to his hometown by leaving his office job in Montreal for Winnipeg, to be with his mother. Finally, in the third story, a tour guide (Pirouz Nemati, the screenwriter), in Winnipeg, wanders through the snow and abandoned malls with an irritated group of tourists.

It works as a pleasing comedy, showing Canada as a diverse country (though if funnier would have been better).
 
It played at the Cannes Film Festival.

REVIEWED ON 5/27/2024  GRADE: B