Babak Payami

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Secret Ballot Review


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You'll be hard pressed to find a more un-Hollywood movie released this year than the Iranian film Secret Ballot. Writer/director Babak Payami is a fan of both the long shot and the long take, and while the movie's visuals are often striking, the tortoise-like pacing can be quite exhausting. Payami is a clever and charming enough filmmaker to keep the viewer involved, but frustration can easily set in when you realize that the director probably could have cut many of the scenes in half and not lost a single thing. That being said, Secret Ballot is still a film so earnest and well intentioned, one can't help but feel a bit guilty criticizing it.

The setting is an island off the coast of Iran, which is experiencing its first free election. The Iranian government is so intent on its citizens voting that they actually send an election agent, ballot box in hand, to the various communities on the island to collect votes. This agent (Nassim Abdi), much to the surprise of the soldier (Cyrus Ab) who is assigned to drive the ballot box and the agent around the island, is a woman. These two people, who will spend an adventurous day together, are proverbial polar opposites.

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