While Mansour (Mansour Daryanavard) is happily playing soccer on the beach, his father falls victim to gunfire between drug dealers and the water police, shot dead by a stray bullet. From then on, the enterprising lad takes on responsibility for his mother. Her dream is to open a café on the Iranian island of Hormuz, where she and her son lead a modest existence. Mansour tries his hand at being a tourist guide, using his cycle rickshaw to ferry bored city dwellers through the handsome rocky landscapes of his home island. When someone asks him to do a one-off courier job, he senses an opportunity for big money. He is hardly aware of the dangers involved in this scheme.
In Looteyo, the laudable feature film debut of Iranian-born Ashkan Nematian, the tradition of Abbas Kiarostami’s early work is carried on under different auspices. Mansour’s resolute resourcefulness, driven by hope for a better life, is at times reminiscent of the restless young soccer fan in Kiarostami’s The Traveler (Mosāfer, 1974). Like his legendary role model, Nematian, who studied at the University of Arts Linz, sketches en passant a carefree but frayed portrait of everyday life and a social panorama full of noteworthy details.
His portrait of morality, however, is less allegorical and more strongly grounded in documentary. The pulse of Hormuz sets the pace of the action: noise and silence, lights and shadows, nature and the streets of the rugged island in the Persian Gulf all give the chain of events and their erratic rhythms a concretely localized, singular ambience. The agile and intuitive camera work, which usually remains at eye level with the precocious protagonist, also provides grounding –except when it drifts off into episodes of dramatic suspense. (Andrey Arnold)
Translation: John Wojtowicz