Why Ask Why
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 03/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Men at Work" is a film from Iran that focuses on four friends. While travelling in a mountainous region within driving distance of Tehran, they stop for one of the group to relieve his bladder. A striking stone rock oddly sticks out by the side of the road. The men's imaginations are captured by the rock; and they assume the mission of trying to push it over and down the cliff. The stone will not budge. In the course of the afternoon, a number of other people drop by. An old man whose donkey is purchased to help in the effort reluctantly sells his animal. Two women that the men know arrive; and we learn part of the social history of the friends. Several groups on a ski trip join the effort, eventually tying a winch and metal rope to their SUV and trying to pull it over. The metal cable snaps and injures one of their crew. One friend stubbornly refuses to leave, even to get his friend medical attention. The film ends with three driving away & coming back to give their friend his coat & hot coffee. This is an open-ended film. One wonders why they try so hard to push over a rock on a mountain road in the middle of nowhere. It's part road picture, part male bonding picture. In the end, not much happens. The film is more of a snapshot of a strange day in the lives of these characters. Director Mani Haghighi makes a decidedly non-political film about a group of friends.
The short film on the disc is "Hold Up" about a woman who persuades her fiancee to hold up a convenience store. Director Madelein Olnek provides good pacing on this quick 6-minute short film. An unusual reversal during the robbery occurs that ties the film together.
The Iranian mountain scenery in "Men at Work" is exceptional. The film has won Best Film @ Traverse City Film Festival, official selection @ Berlin Film Festival, Singapore International Film Festival & Tribeca Film Festival. While I enjoyed the scenery and the whimsical nature of these Iranian friends, the film was not riveting. Enjoy.