Dramatically explosive and slow-building, Fireworks Wednesday is a biting drama. From the strong sound design to the use of simple objects to build conflict, the film makes for a slow-moving, nail-biting look at a marriage gone horribly wrong. It’s a shame then that the film’s device for exploring the film proves to be one of its weakest points.
While riding on a motorcycle with her betrothed, Roohi’s (Taraneh Alidoosti) chador gets caught up in the wheel of the bike. Much like her charod, Roohi becomes entangled in the lives of a married couple in the midst of a feud when she goes to clean their apartment. The wife believes her husband has had an affair and is reaching the end of her rope even as a trip to Dubai is just a day away.
Roohi’s perspective into the story is a bit of a weak point in the film. It gives the film a bit of a distance effect from the drama, which makes it not quite as powerful as the films where the audience is placed right in the midst of the strife. Compared to director Asghar Farhadi’s similar film, A Separation, this is a weak narrative tool that the film relies on for a while only to drop it later as the film progresses, making for a far more engaging and engrossing second half.
Once caught in this drama, it’s amazing how little threads and pieces are used to enhance the drama. For instance, Roohi’s chardor becomes an object of drama when she accidentally leaves it at the apartment. The plane tickets for Dubai become another object of contention as the film progresses. The way something so tiny can sow a seed of contention between the couple shows how heated their fight has become.
The film also shows the past conflict of the couple through a shattered window. Roohi cleans up the remnants of glass left in the room from the broken window. It’s not until late in the film that it is revealed that the husband is the one who broke the window the night before in the midst of a fight.
Further enhancing the drama is the superb sound design. The film takes place on Persian New Year and there are constant fireworks going off throughout the film. These explosions are almost constant throughout the film. This constant barrage of sound induces a feeling of anxiety while watching the film, constantly leaving the audience on edge as the film unfolds.
Even despite the film’s flawed framing device, Fireworks Wednesday is a strong, gripping drama that leaves the tension high, drawing the audience into the hysteria of the couple as they grasp at the end of the rope. While it lacks the maturity of Farhadi’s later films, it’s still a strong and memorable work, warts and all.
© 2016 James Blake Ewing