Directed by Alireza Raisian
Screenplay by Kambuzia Partovi
Story by Abbas Kiarostami
A photographer, Mahmoud, is driving along a rural road, slowing down to take occasional pictures. He gets out of the car and we see that his wife has been riding alongside him in the passenger seat. This slow reveal, as well as a joke that Mahmoud tells, is a reflection of her status and also informs the viewer that there’s more going on in the story than what is presented in the frame.
As they continue on their journey to Tehran, a deer, unusual in these parts, runs across their path, causing Mahmoud to drive the truck off the road. He can’t get the truck restarted, so he walks to the nearest village for help. There’s only one man around, Feizollah, who tends to the village while all the other men are away working. He is willing to help as long as Mahmoud’s wife will take over his classroom. She is a former teacher, so she’s more than willing.
As the film unfolds, we learn more about the characters as they learn more about themselves. The story presents this information not solely through dialogue, but also uses metaphors and imagery to achieve a more powerful effect. At the beginning of the film, the couple is driving on a road that doesn’t appear on a map, which is a wonderful parallel to the state they find themselves in emotionally. The best sequence in the movie takes place at a deserted train station where the children play hide and seek amongst the abandoned train cars, eerily calling out to Mahmoud’s wife as she searches for them.
Deserted Station is a very interesting film that I enjoyed and am still thinking about, but it’s certainly not for everybody. The story moves slowly, even for 88 minutes. We meet the characters but have to pay attention to learn who they are. The film doesn’t provide you any answers; it gives you hints of what the story is about and how the characters have changed. If you like your stories spoon-fed and the epiphanies pointed out, then this isn’t the film for you.