Reelworld: Our Review of ‘The Pot and the Oak’

Reelworld: Our Review of ‘The Pot and the Oak’

At its best, watching director Kiarash Anvari’s film is like a Gentileschi painting. The colours are rich and blocking complex, the setting for a modern day emasculation in Iran of all places. His unfortunate male protagonist is Borzoo (Banipal Shomoon), a pedantic university professor. This film is about toxic masculinity. So toxic that even scarf wearing intellectuals like him can’t escape these unfortunate tendencies. Anvari and his co-writer Sadaf Foroughi doesn’t let women off the hook neither. Foroughi plays Borzoo’s wife Hilda, whose obsession with her friends’ babies make him snap. He also snaps because of how he deals with his infertility.

Anvari and Foroughi do a lot of things here, some of which work and some don’t. It’s a remarkable film visually, somehow mixing scenes with Baroque influences with ones that reflect the coldness of contemporary Tehran. These visual cues are subtle enough to depict Borzoo’s downward spiral. What doesn’t work, however, is its loopy structure and its flashbacks. There’s only a few of those here, but those techniques somehow feel repetitive. I would have also loved to see more of Hilda’s perspective instead of making her dissatisfaction with Borzoo seem harsh. The supporting characters here also seem like sketches.

I’m also not 100% on board with this film’s intellectualism. The cinema scene in Iran, or at least, the output we see in festivals, is inherently intellectual. However, the references here feel slightly obvious. And of course, someone else has done the struggling Persian professor, playwright, and husband before. Nonetheless, it still does interesting things in depicting Borzoo. The film doesn’t try too hard to make its audience feel too sorry for him. But it also doesn’t sandbag him. He could just tell his wife his secret instead of flipping out, but we also know that that’s not easy.

For more information on The Pot and the Oak go to

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches 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.
Comments are closed.