Shirin Neshat
Women Without Men
NW Film Center/Whitsell Auditorium @PAM
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Posted by Eve Connell

The final showing (of five) of Women Without Men, and the house was packed. Word certainly must have got out. The powerful opening images in this extraordinary film resonate days later, and vividly at that. Stark rooftops in Tehran. The back of a woman’s head, each strand of her hair in sharp focus. A pale blue sky. Variegated gray tones of a cobbled sidewalk, patio, portico.
The beautiful imagery throughout Neshat’s film never ends. From city scenes to intimate views of homes, gardens, verandas to countryside orchards, forests, roads, and streams, the vibrant colors and lush detail of this part of the world magically appear before us.
And, so do rich, full characters whose lives intersect with a heavily contextualized social/political backdrop. The snapshot views presented of the women offer glimpse enough into their lives and their experiences. The nearly fantastical way these characters cross paths flows, too, with not much care to logic. This storyline works.
The coup in this story is not solely relegated to that of the British and American forces of this chaotic time in history and place. The personal/psychological coup that each woman experiences on her own, and in some cases with witnesses, is deeply charged, transformative not only to her, but to the audience as well.