No One Knows About Persian Cats


Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18

Critic Reviews

  1. Director Bahman Ghobadi (Turtles Can Fly) shot his faux documentary in secret, and the close-to-the-ground style compensates for the tenuous narrative structure by capturing the energy and variety of Tehran's music scene in all its bravery.
  2. 90
    The film is careful to avoid explicit political statement, but its reticence makes its critique of the Iranian regime all the more devastating.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Whenever a band plays in “Persian Cats,’’ the director treats us to a fast, vibrant montage of Iranian faces and street scenes -- as if to say, look, this is who we REALLY are.
  4. The narrative arc swings between light and darkness, from the sheer joy of the Persian rappers who practice on top of an unfinished skyscraper, to Nadar's arrest and interrogation for his black-market DVDs. In Ghobadi's hands, though, it always feels real.
  5. An exhilarating examination of a leading Iranian criminal enterprise--music: More than 2,000 bands are said to operate clandestinely in the capital of Tehran, risking prison to play together in basements, bedrooms and rooftops.
  6. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    The movie's principal liability is that most of the music is highly derivative. Ghobadi spends a lot of time on songs that are more interesting sociologically than musically.
  7. 75
    The subject may be serious, but Ghobadi's approach is mostly light and humorous, at least until the final scenes. Hamed Behdad is especially funny as a streetwise promoter who fast-talks his way out of jail and 80 lashes.
  8. The film's minimal story line, propelled by hope but dampened with heartbreak, provides the excuse for a first-rate lineup of bands spanning misty folk rock, crunchy alt-pop and thrashing Persian rap.
  9. It's an intriguing travelogue, showing parts of Iran that most of us could never see, or would never dare try to see, given that nasty "Death to America" thing.
  10. 70
    This is worth catching just for the scene in which Behdad, pulled before an Islamic judge for possession of banned DVDs, intermittently cowers and rages, and ultimately talks his way out of a flogging.
  11. 67
    The movie comes to life whenever Hamed Behdad appears.
  12. 63
    Unfortunately, Ghobadi doesn't trust his film to convey the message that has already been clearly and entertainingly spelled out, and No One Knows About Persian Cats ends on a sudden note of tragedy that almost ruins the exuberant spirit of everything that has preceded it.
  13. 60
    These artists are risking everything by playing Western-influenced music; that Ghobadi cheapens and cheeses up their subversion with Hollywood tricks makes for a seriously bitter irony.
  14. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Bahman Ghobadi can’t be faulted for showcasing so many bands, and the mix is wonderfully eclectic, but the linking episodes aren’t always riveting.
  15. Of the many performers captured by D.P. Turaj Aslani's highly mobile video camera, an unframed woman singer identified as Rana Farhan is a standout.
  16. Reviewed by: Alissa Simon
    Strings an improvised tale around Tehran's underground indie-rock scene. Good-looking, shot-on-the-fly fifth feature by Bahman Ghobadi ("Half Moon," "Turtles Can Fly," "A Time for Drunken Horses"), which blends exciting musical performances with an undernourished narrative.
  17. 60
    Persian Cats is likeable but undistinguished filmmaking.
  18. The movie, largely improvised and totally believable, is often very funny, and the glimpses of life inside what remains a very repressive regime are fascinating, but in the final analysis, despite a fairly grim denouement, there's little here you haven't already seen in Hollywood flicks like "Singles."

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