Unusual to many other crime-thrillers, Crimson Gold starts on a climax. A dramatic armed robbery held by Hossein (Hossain Emadeddin), followed by him taking his own life. The rest of the film concentrates on his story, and the events leading up to the heist. By doing so, Panahi justifies Hossein’s actions as a reaction to the division of classes in Tehran.
As demonstrated by Vivian (Julia Roberts) in Pretty Woman (1990), our class or status is often illustrated by the way we present ourselves. The way we dress, comb our hair, wear our make up. As the rescued sex-worker walks into a high-end store for the second time, after previously being rejected for the way she was dressed, she yells “Big mistake! Big. Huge!”
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the protagonist of Panahi’s film. On his first try, Hossein isn’t let into the jewelry store he wishes to enter. And the second time, when he purposefully dresses up, him and his bride are subject to nothing but condescension and derision from the jeweler. These moments truly help us emotionally connect with Hossein.
Interestingly, Panahi and screenwriter, Abbas Kiarostami, street-casted Emadeddin, who was incidentally also a pizza delivery man, much like his character in the film. Emadeddin was an unmedicated paranoid schizophrenic, again, similar to his character who seems to deal with certain mental health issues. But this made it difficult to film. Panahi told The Independent “We could never guess what he would do next. He was always getting into fights. He was afraid of people in power,” once again, similar the protagonist.
Although it was a challenge to film, that challenge connects this fictitious tale closer to non-fiction. The economic disparity repetitively presented in the film is not different to the political landscape in Iran at the time, therefore the feelings of injustice Hussein feels in film are not very different to those felt by Iranian civilians, as exemplified by Emadeddin.
director JAFAR PANAHI
director of photography HOSSEIN JAFARIAN
cast HOSSAIN EMADEDDIN, KAMYAR SHEISI, AZITA RAYEJI, SHAHRAM VAZIRI and EHSAN AMANI
words PRIYESH PATEL
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