Owen Gleiberman
December 09, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Deserted Station

Current Status
In Season
91 minutes
Leila Hatami, Nezam Manouchehri, Mehran Rajabi
Alireza Raisian

We gave it a B

It’s not often you encounter a film that’s simultaneously as tedious and moving as The Deserted Station. In the Iranian desert, a cosmopolitan couple are driving along, presumably from Tehran, in their Chevy Blazer. The man stops to take photographs; the woman, beautiful and pregnant but depressed (she has already suffered two miscarriages), gripes about a neighbor who tweaks her for failing to have had children. Then the car breaks down. In a nearby village, the two are promised help, but only if the woman takes over a class of schoolchildren for the day. Based on a short story by Abbas Kiarostami, the movie rambles through the day with an almost disconsolate pokiness. Yet gradually, invisibly, nearly mystically, the presence of the schoolchildren takes its effect, transforming the woman’s feeling about the child in her womb from ambivalence to acceptance to embrace. The final sequence, in which the kids refuse to stop running after the couple’s Blazer as it rides away, is a small epiphany. The Deserted Station is slow going, but I mean it as no insult when I say that it bored me, in the end, to tears.

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