Reza Motori. 1970. Iran. Written and directed by Masoud Kimiai. With Behrouz Vossoughi, Bahman Mofid, Fariba Khatami. DCP. In Persian; English subtitles. 105 min.
A cult classic of Iranian cinema, featuring superstar Behrouz Vossoughi, Reza Motori has influenced many contemporary filmmakers, who remain haunted by the film’s tragic climax in an open-air cinema. The titular hero, hiding his true identity as a bank robber by feigning mental illness, then swaps identities with his upper-class doppelganger, even falling for the rich man’s fiancée. But there’s no escaping the gangsters who want his stolen loot. Reza Motori forms a kind of loose trilogy of rebellion and self-destruction with Kimiai’s Gheysar and The Deer, as the film’s working-class hero channels Marlon Brando with his motorcycle, leather jacket, and existential doubt. The film also features a memorable theme song performed by Farhad, a great score by Esfandiar Monfaredzadeh (with his ingenious use of a harpsichord), a title sequence designed by Abbas Kiarostami, and still photography by Amir Naderi.