Projections - Movie Reviews

A Time for Drunken Horses

A Time for Drunken Horses

As evidenced by producer, writer and director Bahman Ghobadi's involving, and heartfelt insight into his Kurdish cultural heritage, A Time for Drunken Horses chronicles the plight of orphans impelled to take on adult responsibilities.

The film has a uncomplicated, documentary like structure that has an engaging way to make its young performers quite memorable and reach the viewer with emotions not expected even with the sympathy brought to the Kurdish people.  Ghobadi lived in the village in A Time for Drunken Horses and his portrayal of childhood struggles consistently unfolds with gritty realism.

The meek existence of the children substantiates the Darwinian theory surrounding their work ethic, going from the mountain village to the city in trucks packed like sardines, the kids do taxing work like animals moving heavy packages and helping customers in procuring goods.  They even serve the needs of the driver when heading home by hiding important items in their garments.

A Time for Drunken Horses looks unflinchingly at three characters, one of which needs an operation for a compounding disability that probably isn't that unlike what Bjork's Selma faced with her son's eyesight in the strange, but harrowing and moving Dancer in the Dark.

Ayoub and Amaneh are the siblings of the sick Madi who is fifteen years old but physically looks much younger.  Ayoub assumes a paternal role with his parents passed away for a sizable household of six kids.  The family doctor says that a successful operation will only have a short- term effect, but the determined Ayoub will smuggle truck tires from Iran to Iraq to finance the means to keep his older brother alive for a few more months.

The poignancy of Ghobadi's film and the meaning of its title comes as Ayoub, Amaneh and their family have to go through mine fields and meet up with unanticipated maneuvers from military factions and guards at the border.  Diluting the overstuffed horses' water with alcohol, they are inebriated as they trudge through the snowy terrain.  Like the undaunted kids, the horses feel the awareness to complete an uneasy task in freezing conditions.

A Time for Drunken Horses never loses sight of what the family needs to survive, and that is unconditional love, especially concerning Madi, as the oldest sister, agrees to wed a Kurdistan man from an Iraqi family who can pay for the operation.  But, circumstances surrounding the lad change suddenly when at the border and Ayoub's attempt to get compensation for a mule brings the film to its unnerving finish.

A Time for Drunken Horses

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