In the films of Iranian director Shahram Mokri, time ripples, bends, swallows itself. Mokri’s previous features, “Fish & Cats” and “Invasion”, have ouroborosstyled plot, with recursive chronology and repeated scenes from different characters’ perspectives. His latest, “Criminal Careless,” revolves around a different kind of time loop: the repetition of history.
An epigraph tells us of a 1978 fire caused by four militants at the Rex Cinema in Abadan, Iran, killing hundreds of spectators and inciting the Iranian Revolution. In the opening scenes, “Careless Crime” seems to reenact that event, as a theater owner argues with two colleagues about adding more seats to his cinema, while a stubborn pyromaniac , Takbali, fell into a state with three Muslim arsonists. But makeshift tricks abound: References to the Shah show pre-revolutionary Iran, even if the settings – filled with glittering phones, computers and cars – are contemporary.
Things take a turn for the worse when Mokri begins to cut between Takbali, the crew, and a movie in the series (called “Careless Crime”) about an army captain’s escape with two women. was holding an outdoor screening of “The Deer” in a remote village. (Plus: “The Deer” was shown at Cinema Rex during the 1978 fire.)
Mokri builds his film like a controlled experiment, adjusting each of its variables – time, space, narrative – as if to see what he can catalyze. Sometimes the results are stunning, as when, in a stunning feat of both shooting and acting, a sequence of interactions is repeated over and over in a seamless panning shot. At other times, “Criminal Careless” feels quite energizing, the film’s political responsibility and the sickening of its characters tempered by Mokri’s mathematical enthusiasm.
Crime of carelessness
Not rated. In Persian, with subtitles. Running time: 2 hours 19 minutes. In the theater.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/movies/careless-crime-review.html Review of ‘Criminal Careless’: Time Loop in Iran