- Published: Thursday, 30 March 2017 17:36
The Persian Connection, a neo-noir gangster film that premiered at last year's Tribeca Film Festival as The Longer, has been picked up by art-house distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films for a North American release this year.
Deadline reports that the flick, which marks the feature directorial debut of Daniel Y-li Grove, will open in theaters and on demand this summer. Starring Reza Sixo Safai, Helena Mattsson, Julian Sands and Parviz Sayyad, The Persian Connection focuses on the efforts of Iranian immigrant Behrouz (Safai), a former child-soldier turned career criminal, to try to escape his past and go straight.
The film is set in the underworld of "Tehrangeles", the Persian-American community of Los Angeles that was largely established as a result of the influx of Iranian refugees following the country's 1979 revolution. Despite Behrouz's best intentions to leave his old life behind and succeed honestly as a real estate broker, he and his Russian girlfriend (Mattson) are soon dragged back into their drug-dealing, violence-fuelled past following a chance encounter with the protagonist's former boss, Iranian mobster Cirrus (Sayyad).
As seems to be the case with many gangster films, a high-stakes poker game provides the setting for one of The Persian Connection's most important scenes. Perhaps it's because the classic casino game provides such a fascinating insight into the human psyche with minimal exposition required, or because the tension of a high-stakes game often acts as a microcosm for their story as a whole, but filmmakers certainly have a penchant for poker.
Films from Cool Hand Luke, to Goodfellas, all the way through to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, have used poker games as the setting for some of their most dramatic setpieces. 888poker's "Place in the Pack" quiz suggests that poker players can be broken down into distinct personas that come to the surface in the midst of battle, and it is this notion that allows directors to explore the motivations and psychological traits of many of their central characters within a confined and time-limited environment.
It is during The Persian Connection's ill-fated poker game that Behrouz finds himself accused of stealing from the heavy-handed Cirrus, who provides the overarching source of antagonism from that point onwards. The film's remaining chapters see Behrouz desperately try to make amends with his former master and escape the seedy underbelly of LA society, all the while being faced with the themes of opium addiction, sex, betrayal and violence.
Blending Middle-Eastern influences and immigrant culture with a neon-tinged, noir-like aesthetic and an overtly drug-heavy, sexualized tone may seem an odd choice from Grove, but early reviewers, at least, have praised the movie's hyper-surreality and ability to unashamedly explore sociopolitical issues. Samuel Goldwyn Films, for their part, have described The Persian Connection as "an artistic take on a modern gangster film", and it'll be interesting to see whether the distributor elects to make any further changes, name aside, to the version of the pic that premiered last year.