Film: Mohammad and the Matchmaker (2004)

March 8, 2015 | By


MohammadAndTheMatchmaker_snapshotFilm: Very Good

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Genre:  Documentary / BBC

Synopsis:  The doctor of a recovering heroine addict helps his HIV-positive patient find love in urban Tehran.

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In this episode of the half-hour BBC series World Weddings, director Maziar Bahari fulfills the network’s mandate of crafting a lighthearted piece on marriage – in this case, an HIV-positive former drug user searching for a wife – and illuminates more everyday aspects of a culture rarely seen in western media.

There’s a quirkiness to the doc’s tone, mostly from snappy montages and use of music, but the story of a 47 year old man searching for companionship in Tehran is highly illuminating, especially in the realm of social customs and mores, and the role of religion in matchmaking.

Mohammad’s essentially a survivor of opium and heroine addiction, and according to Bahari, part of a generation of former youths who switched to hard drugs when the 1979 Revolution expunged western-styled hangouts and left few venues of amusement. The doc asserts heroine addiction remains a major issue, yet Mohammad has been clean for 3 years, and with the aide of his doctor (and now friend and matchmaker), he’s determined to find a wife, and start a new life.

Bahari follows Mohammad on his first date with a similar HIV positive woman, and he peppers the narrative with interviews featuring his extensive support network – friends, colleagues, and mother – but it’s the doc’s finale that’s the most fascinating: in love, and quite happy, Mohammad and his fiancée acquire a Shia temporary marriage certificate, which allows the couple to live together for six months. If things click, they can formalize their union with a marriage certificate, and if it breaks apart before the deadline, the temporary groom is obliged to pay a sum pre-determined by the temporary bride.

Maziar Bahari’s recent directorial work is the documentary To Light a Candle (2014), and some of his prior work is available online, including Mohammad and the Matchmaker (2004) and And Along Came a Spider (2003) on YouTube; and Reporters in Iraq (2005),  An Iranian Odyssey: Mossadegh, Oil and the 1953 Coup (2010), and From Cyrus to Ahmadinejad: The Not So Secret Iran-Israel War (2012) on Vimeo.

His 2009 incarceration in an Iranian jail was recently dramatized by Jon Stewart in the film Rosewater (2014).



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



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