Hit the Road (‘Jaddeh Khaki’)

COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 33min (Persian with subtitles)

STARRING: Hassan Madjooni, Pantea Panahiha, Rayan Sarlak, Amin Simiar

Mother and son: Panahiha and Simiar

Family road trips are pressure cookers waiting to explode, fusing the tensions and resentments of their passengers with the external pressures of the road. Compound those combustible ingredients with the political pressures of life in Iran and the clock is ticking for first-time feature film-maker Panah Panahi’s travelling clan.


Its crotchety father (Madjooni) has a broken leg. (Maybe.) Mother (Panahiha), like mothers everywhere, is a wrangler, a cheerleader and the sometimes querulous voice of reason. Their younger son (Sarlak) is hyper and happily oblivious, while their eldest (Simiar), who is ostensibly driving them all to his wedding, is a thinker of few words. Additionally, the dog is on its last legs. As their borrowed SUV makes headway in fits and starts across the oatmeal- and emerald-coloured country, it becomes evident that this is no fun ride. Whatever the family is up to, which also becomes evident as they approach the Turkish border, they’re risking their shirts to do it.


As the son of acclaimed writer-director Jafar Panahi (The Circle), who has faced his own imprisoning issues with the autocratic Iranian regime, Panah Panahi knows his way around creative peril. Hit the Road ’s unhurried pace and cosy domestic back and forths are set dressing for deadly serious intent in a venture into the unknown that is at once a letting go, a heartache and a blazing statement of defiance.