Offside
Wow, other countries still want to see Michael Jackson … Who knew?

Theatrical Release Date: 02/17/2006 (Berlin Film Festival) 03/23/2007 (USA)
Director: Jafar Panahi
Cast: Sima Mobarak-Shahi, Shayesteh Irani, Safdar Samandar, Mahnaz Zabihi

I doubt it comes as much of a surprise that Iran had banned women from attending sporting events and I’m going to sidestep the possible political discussion here because I’m a movie reviewer, not a diplomat.

“Offside” does much of the same dance as I’m doing and therein lies my problem with the film.

A well-regarded Iranian director, Jafar Panahi attempts to tell the story of girls trying to sneak into a World Cup soccer qualifying match between Iran and Bahrain and it doesn’t really amount to anything.

The dialogue is boring, the visual shots are plain and dull (there are essentially four locations the film takes place in, creating one of the most static motion pictures I’ve ever seen), the story doesn’t really go anywhere and if I had a nickel for every time this movie made me nod off during the show, I’d be doing laundry right now … speaking of which.

… Okay I’m back.

I was hoping for either a well-intentioned comedy or a frank and honest statement about the treatment of women in Iran and neither even came close to being materialized.

“Offside” just keeps droning on and on, saying very little. About the only believable aspect was the excitement of the actors as Iran wins the match and they realize they’ve made it to the World Cup tournament … though of course, this being such a dull film, we don’t actually get to see the game end, the closing minutes are described by one of the soldiers guarding the girls as he watches through an iron gate.

If you understood the language and culture better (of which I know basically nothing), maybe then this film would hit its mark. As it stands, this film is pretty much a one way ticket to nap town for this son of the Great Satan.

I’m using my skills in international diplomacy to hand out a 1 out of 5 to “Offside”. The film is dull and fails to convey the significant social issue at hand, however I applaud Panahi for trying to express this idea in the face of so much Old World religious dogma.