We follow Ava and the people around her after she's been injured and horribly scarred. It becomes clear that being scarred and deemed ugly in a country where beauty is the main focus in a woman is not that easy, but Ava tries to adapt and get back on her feet.
It's fair to say that I'm not an expert on cinema from Iran. One of few names I can recall is Abbas Kiarostami, and I haven't seen his films. I took the chance to check out "One. Two. One" for a few reasons - one being that it's from Iran, the other for being directed by a woman, and finally the style of the movie sounded appealing (more on that later). Second Run DVD constantly put out movies that surprise me, and "One. Two. One" certainly did that despite being a movie I didn't think I could relate to.
The entire is a series of conversations between people somehow related to a woman named Ava, and some including Ava herself. Ava is a beautiful woman who got disfigured in an acid attack, and it proves to be a heavy burden to take on in Iran's society. The conversations slowly give us the story of what happened, about her life, about her current situations, but through that we also see how the people around her react to what happened and beauty in general.
The movie is literally made out of conversations without cuts, but not once does it get boring. The camera is very much alive and carefully handled which helps a ton. Even the static shots have life to them. Not to mention the perfect timing of everything, the long and very involving discussions, the sincerity in the actors. It might seem simple and minimalistic on paper, but this movie is filled with talent we rarely stumble upon outside of the greats. It's quite fascinating on a technical level alone.
Even without caring for politics you can find a lot in "One. Two. One". It's very humane, but a movie that was bound to upset people in the home country. Mania Akbari shows no concern to that in the movie. It's a very brave piece of art in all its simplicity. It speaks louder and has more to say than most Hollywood movies made today.
"One. Two. One" is just a great movie overall. I can't think of many reasons not to watch it. It's not a fun movie, but it hooks you into Ava's life. Obviously you should go into it expecting that, or at least expecting something different, because you need to give it your time. It's deeply touching but still manages to come out as a positive experience with some happy moments. I'm glad it was made available through Second Run DVD, and hopefully I will watch more of Mania Akbari's movies in the future.