It’s astonishing, in many ways, that Iranian filmmakers can still keep making top-tier cinema. With all the restrictions and censorship in place in the country, it’s a miracle that any films get made at all. Directors have to navigate a minefield of rules and regulations, which seem to be in perpetual flux. The worrying recent news of the arrest of Mohammad Rasoulof, Mostafa Aleahmad and Jafar Panahi bring these difficulties into stark relief. In this context, Hit the Road is something of a marvel.
After packing everything up and leaving their lives behind in Tehran, a family are driving across the rugged rural Iranian landscape. Dad (Hasan Majuni) has a broken leg whilst mum (Pantea Panahiha) is trying to put a brave face on it. While the youngest (Rayan Sarlak) doesn’t understand what’s going on, but treats everything like an adventure. Their first son (Amin Simiar) is on driving duties, steering himself towards a new future outside of the country.
Hit the Road is a beautifully judged drama about a family dealing with an unspoken trauma. Panah Panahi’s debut feature shares a lot of common themes with his father’s work, but takes the audience in an entirely different direction. There’s a wonderful texture and feel to his film. One which is full of humour, heatwarming moments and harsh truths. With Hit the Road, Panahi jnr. Has announced himself as a major talent to watch.
Hit the Road is out in UK and Irish cinemas on 29 July.