When protest in a nearby city breaks out and the militia raid a morgue to hide civilian casualties, an elderly caretaker discovers the body of an unknown young woman and embarks on a magical odyssey to give her a proper burial, in the debut feature from Alireza Khatami.
Full of contemplative wit and soft-hearted humour, Alireza Khatami's feature debut, Oblivion Verses, blends the political and the personal in a magical-realist tale about one man's quest to right the wrongs of humanity.
Within the walls of a sprawling cemetery where time stands still, a sweet-natured undertaker in his seventies lives a quiet existence. With an incredibly detailed memory (he just can't remember names!) and a body that bears the scars of a torturous past, he's counting up the funerals while counting down his last days at the graveyard. His daily routine goes by uninterrupted until the outside world sends in news of a mysterious happening: there's a pod of whales beached on the nearby coast while violent clashes erupt in the city. The brutal intrusion of the secret police at his morgue leaves behind the unidentified body of a young woman, breaking up the cemetery's tranquility and digging up painful memories of distant trauma. Determined to offer the woman a proper burial, he sets off on a Kafkaesque journey of redemption.
In the traditions of Raúl Ruiz and Gabriel García Márquez, Oblivion Verses unfolds like a fable, and its painterly cinematography, immersive sound design, and affectionate performances construct a world where the fantastical infiltrates the real in an organic way. Through emotional moments of levity and solemnity Khatami reconciles the past with the present, history with memory, and the personal with the humanity that lies within.
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