Jafar Panahi, the genius filmmaker behind The White Balloon and The Mirror, returns to form with Offside, a movie about trying to watch soccer. Unfortunately, the people trying to watch the soccer are women, and they’re living in Iran, where women aren’t allowed to go to professional sporting events. So they wind up stuck in a cage outside the stadium while fans cheer, and weary soldiers keep the girls from sinfully enjoying themselves. Offside is surprisingly human and dramatically effective for such a politically loaded film, and the acting by the largely amateur cast is gripping. If Panahi can continue to handle this level of political content while still maintaining his artistic chops (something he failed to do in his last two films), he may wind up as the finest filmmaker of his generation.


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