Film Review: The Broker (Mo’aref)

Azadi R Moghadam’s The Broker (Mo’aref) is an intimate portrait of a single aspect of Iranian life. Through this microcosm, the film is endlessly revealing. 

Mrs Sadri runs a dating agency for single men and woman in Iran. Mrs Sadri and her team deal with a variety of clients, asking them to be realistic about their prospects as they suggest potential matches…

Focusing on the day-to-day activity of an Iranian dating agency, The Broker is a fly-on-the-wall documentary. Director Azadi R Moghadam’s offers a very intimate portrait of the agency, with cameras situated inside the small office for the vast majority of the film. This reveals the everyday activity of Mrs Sadri and her assistants, such as fielding calls and making lunch. It also adds a sense of claustrophobia, with a myriad of issues being discussed in this one space. 

The Broker will be very revealing to those unfamiliar with Iranian customs and social values. There are a number of concepts that come up, such as temporary marriage, which may seem unusual for a western audience. Perhaps the biggest take away from the film is its portrait of women and their place in Iranian society. The Broker depicts women as secondary to men when it comes to dating and marriage, with the outright statement that men get to choose their partner, whilst women get picked. It is particularly interesting that it is the female staff of the agency project this view. The film depicts just how entrenched women’s place in society is, despite the modernity that surrounds them. 

The film isn’t constant gloom nevertheless. There are moments of humour to be found, in the staff discussing everyday realities of their lives, to giving male clients lectures on the way to treat dates. Despite women being at a disadvantage, men do not get away with everything. Through its concentration on a single aspect and a single location, The Broker reveals so much about Iranian society.

The Broker (Mo’aref) is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

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