SFIFF56: The Last Step (Peleh Akhar) by Ali Mosaffa

The Last StepA sophisticated piece of storytelling: Mr. Mosaffa shows us how it’s done. He has a sure hand, confident in his non-linear storytelling and in the rich emotional world his actors create. This film is a sophisticated meditation on the stories we tell ourselves and each other, whether to protect, to deceive, to harm, or to remember.

On the surface the film circumscribes the love triangle between Leyli, an actress; her husband Khosro; and their friend, Amin. Leyli’s current film project includes the ghost of a dead husband; concurrently, there are flashbacks to the events leading up to Khosro’s death. The entire film is narrated by the real ghost-husband. Through the clever linking of these narrative conventions, we construct for ourselves the truths which these three people hide from each other. But in parceling the story this way, Mr. Mosaffa deftly exposes the real story: we construct our own reality (and even others’ reality) at a great cost to preserve a sense of continuity and harmony. We have to keep our stories intact even when our motivations are unfathomable (or in Amin’s case, deporable).

The “last step” of the film is a particular place. But it is also the various attempts at closure which each character undertakes. To move beyond the past and repair the damage of their stories, they must each find that last step.

With an ever-compelling Leila Hatami (A Separation) as Leyli.

The Last Step (Peleh Akhar). Dir. Ali Mosaffa. Iranian Independents, 2012. In Farsi.

Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize and Best Actress Award at the 2012 Karlovy Vary Film Festival.