Subtraction (‘Tafrigh’)

THRILLER; 1hr 47min (Persian with subtitles)

STARRING: Taraneh Alidoosti, Navid Mohammadzadeh

Mirrored image: Mohammadzadeh and Alidoosti

What would you do if, like Tehran driving instructor Farzaneh (Alidoosti), you spotted your husband (Mohammadzadeh as Jalal) on a bus he wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near? Farzaneh’s reaction is instinctual: abandoning her student in gridlocked, rain-drenched traffic, she follows Jalal to an apartment block where he meets another woman. This is obviously a highly incriminating look, even though, when Farzaneh confronts him, Jalal has documented proof that he was out of town at the time.


Given that Farzaneh is off her meds due to her pregnancy, according to her doctor, she may be losing her grip again — except that when Jalal scopes out the building to see for himself, he encounters Bita (Alidoosti again), who might as well be his wife’s clone. Could this be any more of a head spinner? Actually, yes! Bita’s husband, Mohsen (you guessed it: Mohammadzadeh), is a double for Jalal! And incidentally, when oh when will it stop raining? (Spoiler alert: Never!)


“What am I supposed to do now?” Farzaneh wonders, as any woman would if her doppelgänger showed up out of nowhere with her husband’s identical twin. At this stage, Farzaneh is traumatised, Bita and Jalal are stunned but accepting and and in-the-dark Mohsen, who is an explosion waiting to happen, is swamped by the consequences of beating up a senior workmate, leaving him unconscious in hospital.


Such deranged ingredients are typically the building blocks of melodrama; a slope down which film-maker Mani Haghighi and his multifaceted actors have manifestly resolved not to slide. Although predicated by the inexplicable, the maze in which they move is less obvious and more profound. Cloaked in suspense, haunted by the spectre of possibilities left unexplored, the culmination of its pretzel logic makes terrible, paradoxical sense.