Set mainly in Tehran, director Parviz Shahbazi utilises the mobile phone angle to create a semi-improvised film about three young Iranians. The first two are Hanna (Saghar Ghanaat) and Mori (Saed Soheili), two young lovers who run away from home. This third is Azi (Azarakhsh Farahani), an aspiring musician who gets wrapped up in the couple’s problems.
Through the use of phone footage, the film makes a thematic point. The act of recording is a modern means of self-expression for Hanna, who is otherwise restricted by the traditional background of her family and Iranian society at large. Therefore, the importance of the mobile phone is that it highlights the tension between progress and tradition.
This central conflict is also embodied most fully in the character of irresponsible slacker Azi, who is easily the highlight of the film. Through his love of the Beatles, and pop-culture t-shirts, Azi is the most outwardly modern character. He exudes a simple kindness towards Hanna and Mori, two people he has no real reason to help. This eventually turns him into a tragic figure as he suffers thanks to their actions.
If Malaria has a problem, it’s that the conclusion is dissatisfying thanks to its abruptness. The resolution of the opening mystery about why investigators are viewing the footage is given an ambiguous answer. It feels empty thanks to how suddenly Malaria arrives at its conclusion.
Despite suffering from a weak ending, this issue does not stop Malaria from being highly likeable. This is thanks to Farahani’s portrayal of the lovely Azi, and director Parviz Shahbazi’s sophisticated stylistic choices which package the film well.
CAST: Saghar Ghanaat, Saed Soheili, Azarakhsh Farahani
DIRECTOR: Parviz Shahbazi
WRITER: Parviz Shahbazi
SYNOPSIS: Two lovers run a way to Tehran and along the way they run into a kindly musician.