In the city of Tehran, the lives of three disenchanted individuals, Mina (Forough Ghajabagli), Hessam (Amir Hessam Bakhtiai) and Vahid (Mehdi Saki), subtly intersect in their respective search for acceptance, love and happiness.
Mina is a receptionist at an upmarket beauty clinic. Overweight and unhappy with her self-image, she purges her insecurities by indulging in ice-cream and catfishing male clients she encounters at work. This is where she meets Hessam, a former bodybuilding champion turned fitness coach to the elderly, when he visits the clinic enquiring about Botox.
Similarly to Mina, Hessam’s struggle with self-definition is rooted within an everyday confrontation with vanity and societal desire for perfection; he auditions for a film role by flexing his enormous biceps, whilst the casting director inspects him and takes various photographs. He also works tirelessly to train a young, aspiring bodybuilder, who will stop at nothing for the championship title.
Finally, Vahid, a recently single professional mourner who is suffering with occupational depression, is slowly convinced by a friend to make a career move. Exchanging eulogies and lamentations for cliché love songs and speeches, Vahid tries his hand at wedding singing. Struggling at first, he is consoled by the refreshingly self-assured Niloufar (Behnaz Jafari), professional photographer and best friend to Mina, when she promises to help him infiltrate the business.
Director Ali Jaberansari is clearly an actor’s director, managing to elicit subtle reactions from the three protagonists. Heart-breaking and emotionally fuelled scenes paint a stunningly unapologetic portrait of the fleeting nature of happiness. Contrasted cleverly with the use of deadpan humour, Jaberansari reminds audiences just how absurd this fruitless search for love is, especially in a city that seems unwilling to cooperate.
TEHRAN: CITY OF LOVE is an intricately woven character study, exploring the intimate side of human nature, along with its intrinsic self-criticisms and anxieties. Final scenes promise to be totally unforgettable, leaving audiences speechless and in complete emotional limbo.