Day Break (دم صبح) Made in: Iran Language: Farsi Director: Hamid Rahmanian Starring: Hossein Yari Year: 2005
Synopsis: In the city of Tehran, Mansour Ziaee (Hamid Rahmanian) is regular working-class guy. For reasons unknown, he murders his boss one day following a violent argument. Sentenced to death, Mansour awaits execution.
According to Iran's Islamic Law, the victim's family must be present to witness the execution. And they must also give consent to the authorities to either put the accused to death, or to pardon him.
But in Mansour's case, the family members of his victim have been unable to show up on the three separate days on which he has been scheduled to be executed.
The stress of being on death row starts taking a massive emotional toll on Mansour, who has a supportive family and pregnant wife.
As he reflects upon the prospect of dying, he withdraws further from his loved ones and prison buddies until the next scheduled day of his execution...which could very well be delayed again!
The Good: Seamlessly flowing from documentary-style to conventional fiction filmmaking, Day Break is very well constructed. Hossein Yari does an excellent job playing the condemned Mansour, who convincingly comes across as an otherwise nice guy who just had a seriously bad lapse in judgement one day.
Yari is very genuine and likeable, and definitely a character the audience can connect with. The film is very slow-moving, as if to give us a clearer idea of what it must be like in Mansour's place.
The film is also unpredictable, and leaves us guessing as to whether or not the story will have a happy or depressing ending. The use of dream sequences and flashbacks create a Christopher Nolan-like effect at times, as we cut from the past, present, and what Mansour imagines could be his future.
The Bad: The ending. I won't tell you what happens, but I thought it was a bad move on the director's part.
Although the documentary-style parts worked in the context of the story, that filmmaking strategy has been overused and the novelty is wearing off.
Who would like this film: Day Break is for you if you're an experienced fan of foreign and art films. This is a story that's meant to be pondered and discussed, and you have to be in the mood to watch something deep.
The human element is pretty universal, and the sequence of events shouldn't be lost on anyone despite cultural differences.
Day Break is a very interesting film to watch, as it gives us a rare opportunity to see the lives of some regular Iranian people. In the near future, hopefully more Iranian films will manage to make their way past the mullahs and to the rest of the world.