Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Nassim Abdi, Cyrus Abidi, Youssef Habashi, Farrokh Shojaii, Gholbahar Janghali
Director: Babak Payami
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
This gentle, low-key comedy follows a female civil servant of an Islamic country (presumably Iran, but specifics aren't given) as she travels around a sparsely populated island, trying to get the inhabitants to vote on ele... more »
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Shermaine A. (myscreenname) from W HOLLYWOOD, CA
Reviewed on 11/15/2007...
Secret Ballot is the story of a female bureaucrat and her escort, a soldier, who are assigned to gather votes on a remote island. Both of the characters represent extreme opposite in terms of faith in governments and their roles also plays out in a battle of the sexes.
The movie is a bit slow at times. Literally. A few times I wondered if I had accidentally pressed pause on the DVD player because it seemed that nothing on the screen was moving. It's a comedic movie in that it is full of irony in terms of gender roles and government policies.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Easily misunderstood masterpiece
MW van Staden | Randburg, South Africa | 02/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is easily misunderstood, but even those who do not fully understand it, will enjoy it and find it "sweet", "charming" or "gentle".The storyline is simple. A box drops out of the sky close to the guardpost on an island in some Islamic country. Half an hour later a small boat appears, a woman gets off and orders the guard to accompany her to go and get votes on ballot day. Why is this easy to misunderstand? Because the film communicates so much in a very simple way. Firstly, it is a comedy - not the outward belly-laugh kind, but the inward warm-smile kind. Every single situation the two chief characters experience is absurd. Take for instance the scene where there is a red robot in the middle of the desert, without even a clear intersection. Also look out for the ballot agent literally not leaving any stone unturned to find the votes! Where have you ever heard of the ballot box going to the voters, instead of the voters going to the ballot box? One voter insists on Allah as a write-in candidate to vote for! One can go on and on - but the tone of the film is so down-to-earth and realistic that you almost miss the tongue-in-cheek humour. Most people I have spoken to actually thought it was supposed to be totally realistic!The film is also stunning social and political commentary. It raises questions on democracy (how can somebody who do not know you, your community or your situation "represent" you? What good is democracy if it makes absolutely no difference to your life?). It raises questions about gender discrimination, especially the role and capabilities of a woman (the guard insists at the beginning, embarrassed to be ordered around by a woman, "I thought you should have been a man"!). It raises questions about false deadlines - the fallacy of getting everything that needs to be done, done within an unrealistic deadline. It raises questions on religion (who do you depend on, God or the government?).The film is also a human drama. The two main caharacters, despite their absurd situation, are depicted as very rounded individuals and during the day their respect, understanding and liking for each other is gradually enhanced. Once again this is very subtly done: note the change of tone in their talking to each other and the subject matter, note where they are sitting in the vehicle as the day progresses. At the end of the day, the guard wants to vote for the ballot agent!To crown it all, it gives the uninitiated some better understanding of Islamic culture, idiosincracies and prejudice. Moving too slow? No way - you need a little time to savour what is happening. Outward action may be restricted, but through all the above themes there is a rich tapestry of events which you can enjoy.The film accomplishes much with remarkably little special effects, it is gentle and warm and it leaves you with the feeling that you have seen something special, yet you don't know quite why you feel that way. Keep the above comments in mind and I am sure you will enjoy it tremendously - whatever you do, give it a go!"
This is an excellent movie!
Goddess Orchid | USA | 06/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let's talk about the DVD itself. The only thing special is that you have control of what language to see the subtitles...that's about it...and scene selections.Now, this movie is so through provoking and powerful. It is about a women who is sent by the government to get people to vote. She has her problems from the moment she steps of the boat with the person who is to escort but she shows herself as a powerful and intelligent woman and simply deals with the matter in that fashion. She is the off to find people to vote. However she find herself dealing with many issues of the people. For exmaple: a group of women come to vote and the man states he will do the voting for them. Instead of getting upset and losing image, she simply explains that every citizen has the right to vote on the own and have their own opinion. Something, we westerners take for granted. She is also confronted by people who are against voting and she finds herself breaking some of the religious rules to try to get them to vote. I won't give anymore away. However the character grows in this film and we learn so much about the people of Iran. The values, customs, and religion.I recommend this movie for those who want to sit back and enjoy a movie that really takes you into the mind and heart of a culture"
A day on a desert isle
Stephen A. Haines | Ottawa, Ontario Canada | 08/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The tranquility of a desert dawn is rudely interrupted by aircraft engines. A parachuted box varies the mundane task of two soldiers watching for smugglers. With the arrival of a boat dispatching a young woman on the beach, nothing will ever be the same. Democracy has arrived on an Iranian island - wearing a chador and sturdy walking shoes.
Few films have started in as low a key as this one. Fewer still have built a story of such intense human realism from such a gentle beginning. The soldier, shocked at the arrival of a woman as the Election Officer, is reluctant to be commandeered as her escort. She has the power of The Law on her side, however. They must tour the island, collecting votes, and return to camp to meet the boat at 5:00 o'clock - "You're ordered to escort me".
The ensuing day is marked by clashes of personality, background, role and purpose. The soldier's job is to catch law-breakers. That covers just about anyone whose behaviour he can't immediately comprehend. A man running across the sands is a voter to one and a fleeing criminal to the other. Which is he? That he votes doesn't settle the question. Voters come in all shapes, sizes, dress - and attitudes - "even smugglers can vote", she says. A group of women voters are delivered in a giant dump truck - but they speak a dialect the Election Officer doesn't know. Although the slate is ten "approved candidates" [approved by who?], one man bypasses them to vote for his own favourite. Others don't want to take the time - "voting doesn't catch fish".
The Election Officer has her own answers to these complaints. With an enthusiasm a Britannica salesman would envy, she sells democracy to the island's residents. And a few others. She rises to every objection: "If you vote, you can plan your life better". Illiterate voters who can't read the names are encouraged to "vote for the photographs". Her intensity is palpable - would there were more like her here! At the end, there is only one vote left to obtain. The scene resolves the entire film while resolving nothing. There should be a sequel, but it will never be filmed.
Payami's film is almost indescribable in its stark beauty. The purity of the desert provides an excellent background to the intense human story. There are many levels to cope with as you watch it unfold. These are people distrustful of what they can't grasp, control or understand. An election has remote meaning to a culture unused to its vagaries. They are far from ignornant, but they are an isolated community. Payami offers no issues, parties, ambitions either distant nor local in the election. Survival, the daily struggle on the island, is the key. Payami highlights the protagonists when needed, but sets them against the changing background as the Election Officer and the Soldier tour the island. The foreground changes, also, as the Officer and Soldier work out their roles. Highly recommended. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]"