For many women who live in Islamic countries, their movements are under the control of the dominant male in their lives. Whether that’s a husband, father or brother. Regardless of how good or bad that relationship may be, their freedoms and daily routines are (technically) bound by patriarchal consent. Failing To abide by these rules can lead to a number of reprisals, from verbal abuse to beatings to even death. In Farnoosh Samadi’s feature debut, 180° Rule, a woman must face a difficult choice.

Sara (Sahar Dolatshahi) is a school teacher who lives in Tehran with her husband Hamed (Pejman Jamshidi) and their young daughter. They are due to attend a wedding in the north, but when an unforeseen work commitment arises, he has to fly out of town. However, he forbids her to go on the long journey alone. Sara doesn’t want disappoint her girl, who has been looking forward to the event. She goes against his wishes with tragic consequences.

180° Rule is a powerful debut which highlights the (often unseen) strain that women can be placed under in traditional societies. Being bound by your husband’s wishes has so many ramifications which go way beyond the obvious. 180° Rule could easily have descended into melodrama, but whilst those around her lose control Dolatshahi’s increasingly desperate Sara is steadfast. Her performance grounds Samadi’s drama, which could easily have gone off the tracks. As it is, it’s an impressive first film from a director worth noting.

180° Rule screens at London Film Festival until 12 October.