Rendezvous with Madness 2017: Our Review of ‘Starless Dreams’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, RWM 2017 by - November 07, 2017
Rendezvous with Madness 2017: Our Review of ‘Starless Dreams’

“I thought they would execute us right away,” a girl named Somayeh says to another.  They are lounging together, reading comics in their bunk beds in prison. The same thought came to me, which worried me about my assumptions about Iran, a theocratic republic. I also thought of interrogation rooms instead of the place Mehrdad Oskouei is showing us. It’s the Iran’s Correctional and Rehabilitation Center for girls. Despite her innocent looks, Somayeh is in the Centre for murdering her abusive father.

The other girls are in for vagrancy as well as for drug and property crimes. There’s a communal spirit within the inmates, which is something that Ouskouei shows a lot. They also get to wear their own clothes, which is something a lot of Eastern prisons allow their inmates. This makes the facility nicer than juvie here in Canada, which is cliqueier and more isolating. But the girls are on an impasse. They have lesser freedoms in the facility, but when they get out, they go back to their families. And those people are either abusive or have addictions that mar their ability to become parents.

Starless Dreams has its share of happy moments within prison. As the film progresses it dwells a bit much on the girls’ sad lives. The audience is already on their side. But it feels as if needs to drive its point across more by showing them cry for more than necessary. At least, however, Oskouei is a positive presence to them. We could hear his voice behind the camera, comforting them while recounting their anecdotes and thoughts and feelings. Those can’t be easy to talk about since they haven’t lived the best of lives. He brings an immersive experience to the screen, showing us these girls lives as truthfully as he can.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.