Review: “Leila’s Brothers” by Saeed Roustaee

Review: "Leila's Brothers" by Saeed Roustaee

A story of survival and hope in the closing film of the 32nd FESCAAAL

Group of Family in Interiors. The familiar ones, the hospital rooms to celebrate a birth or wait for a call for a visit in crowded corridors, the luxurious office of a businessman on the upper floors of a modern building, the sumptuous residence where the investiture of the new patriarch of the clan to which the protagonist family of Leila’s Brothers belongs is celebrated. This is the third feature film by Saeed Roustaee, which, in almost three hours, composes a compelling and novelistic portrait – in the sense of the construction of a choral narration that refers to classical literature inscribed in conflicts and secrets that explode and are hidden within domestic walls – of a family nucleus subjugated by debts, unemployment, precariousness and trying to survive, in a Tehran and an Iran devastated by the economic crisis (in the years of sanctions increased by the US presidency of Donald Trump, glimpsed on television), elaborating new strategies, even if dangerous.

A patriarchal family, that of Leila’s Brothers, made up of elderly parents (with the father aspiring to become the new patriarch of the dynasty), four quarrelsome brothers, and sister Leila, a forty-year-old who, in this male-dominated atmosphere, has taken on the task of finding a concrete solution to the impasse that has been home to those walls for some time. Taraneh Alidoosti, 39, one of the stars of Iranian cinema in the last twenty years (whose name is also linked to several films by Asghar Farhadi), engaged in the struggle for civil rights in her country and for this imprisoned and then released at the beginning of 2023 after nineteen days in prison, plays her role. Alongside her – who expresses with calibrated acting and with her tired face and body the signs of the daily management of an increasingly intricate situation, in a film of fluid structure, sumptuous staging, and full of dialogue – there are excellent actors who depict their characters more prominently, and on whom Saeed Poursamimi, in the role of the father, stands out. At 79 years old, with a filmography alternating between television and cinema, he offers an intense and nuanced performance.

Giuseppe Gariazzo

Film critic

Leila’s Brothers will be screened as the closing film of the 32nd FESCAAAL on March 26th at 8:30 pm at the Cineteca Milano Arlecchino, in the presence of director Saeed Roustaee and producer Soheil Larijani.



11 May 2024
22 Jan 2024