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THE LIZARD aka MARMOULAK
UK: Barian Entertainment / ICA
Cast: Parvis Parastui, Bahram Ibrahimi, Shahrokh Foroutanian, Farideh Sepah Mansour, Maedeh Tahmasebi, Ali Abedini, Rana Azadvar, Bahram Ebrahimi, Mehran Rajabi, Reza Saeedi, Naqi Seif-Jamali
Director: Kamal Tabrizi
Language: Persian (English Subtitles)
UK: 115 mins
UK Release Date: 22 April 2005 (Limited Release - London, ICA)
A sharp, accessible satire that proved to be an enormous hit in Iran, where it played to packed houses before pressure from the Islamic clergy forced the government to suppress the film. Too late, however - the public, who made this one of the most commercially successful films of all-time, had already adopted the term 'lizards' as popular slang for clerics.
Convicted thief Reza (Parvis Parastui, compared in some quarters to Eric Morecambe) manages to slip out of jail in the 'borrowed' garb of a Mullah but finds that, once on the outside, he's best off maintaining his new identity of a holy man.
His laidback sermons, which cover everything from Quentin Tarantino and his own former trade of cat-burglary, quickly win him an enthusiastic following in the village where he finds himself hiding out. This is more than just a simple exercise in cynicism, proving - as Reza himself preaches - that there are many different paths to God.
This is a new style of Iranian cinema for international audiences, a relatively straightforward comedy blockbuster that's more about entertainment than art.