SECRET BALLOT

Sluggish Humanist Satire

Content -1
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: August 09, 2002

Starring: Nassim Abdi and Cyrus Ab

Genre: Comedy/Satire

Audience: Older teenagers and adults

Rating: G

Runtime: 105 minutes

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony

Director: Babak Payami

Executive Producer: Hooshangh Payami

Producer: Marco Müller and Babak Payami

Writer: Babak Payami

Address Comments To:

Michael Barker, Tom Bernard & Marcie Bloom
Co-Presidents
Sony Pictures Classics
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833
Web Page: www.spe.sony.com

Content:

(HH, RoRo, B, Ab, FR, L, N, M) Humanist worldview with Romantic elements and some positive references to God, but treated in an ironic way perhaps, plus references to the false religion of Islam; two light obscenities and one borderline profanity (“God knows”); no violence; no sex; upper male nudity; no alcohol; no smoking; and, apathy and Third World bigotry, superstition and oppression.


Summary:

SECRET BALLOT is a slow-moving political satire from Iran focusing on a soldier and a young woman who’s sent to the island to gather votes on Election Day. A humanist worldview with a romantic premise fails to dissolve the sluggish, unfocused script in this movie.


Review:

SECRET BALLOT is a slow-moving political satire from Iran about democracy, the voting process and the failure of Islamic government in rural, Third World areas. Using lingering shots of an island wasteland, the movie focuses on a soldier protecting a young woman who is sent to the island to gather votes on Election Day. At first, the soldier is upset that they’ve sent a woman to do this job. He causes trouble for her by standing too close to the voters with his rifle while they cast their secret ballots. The woman literally leaves no stone unturned in her search for ballots, even when she encounters recalcitrant women who refuse to cast votes without their husbands. Slowly, however, she earns the soldier’s respect, even as some of her idealistic notions come back down to earth.
One of the all too few high points of the movie is when the couple comes upon an old man who adamantly says that he’s going to cast his vote for God. When they point out to him that God’s not on the ballot, because only people can run for office, the man says he doesn’t care. The only one who’s really worthy of his vote is God, the man strongly implies.
Most viewers will not have the patience to sit through writer and director Babak Payami’s slow, sluggish takes. Especially since not much happens in too many of his shots. Adding to the problem is the fact that the story is a minimal one with little eye toward building a consistent conflict or tension and resolving that conflict and tension in a climactic high point. The script needs a dramatic overhaul. Thus, Payami’s political points get lost in the boredom.
Accompanying this poor scripting is a humanist worldview, which blames society for the ills of mankind rather than the sinful, ungodly nature of fallen human beings. At the end, Payami suggests that compassionate communication between humans can change society for the better. This may be true to a certain extent, but without the power of God through Jesus Christ to enlighten our way, we are lost. As Jesus says in John 15:4, 5, “Remain in me and I will remain in you. . . . I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”


In Brief:

SECRET BALLOT is a slow-moving political satire from Iran. Using lingering shots of an island wasteland, the movie focuses on a soldier and a young woman who are sent to the island to gather votes on Election Day. At first, the soldier is upset they’ve sent a woman. He causes trouble for her by standing too close to the voters with his rifle while they vote. The woman literally leaves no stone unturned in her search for ballots, even when she encounters recalcitrant women who refuse to cast votes without their husbands. Slowly, however, she earns the soldier’s respect, even as some of her idealistic notions come back down to earth.
Most viewers will not have the patience to sit through this movie’s slow, sluggish takes. Especially since not much happens in too many of its shots. Adding to the problem is the fact that the story is minimal and unfocused, with little eye toward building a consistent conflict and resolving that conflict in a climactic high point. Accompanying the poor scripting is a humanist worldview, which blames society for the ills of mankind rather than the sinful, ungodly nature of fallen human beings