The Nights of Mashhad: The Review


- Release date : 07/13/2022
- Original title : holy spider
- Duration of the movie : 1:56
- Director: Ali Abbasi
- Scriptwriter : Ali Abbasi
- Performers: Mehdi Bajestani, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Arash Ashtiani, Forouzan Jamshidnejad, Alice Rahimi, Sara Fazilat, Sina Parvaneh, Nima Akbarpour


Nights of Mashhad is a good Iranian film inspired by a tragic news item that took place in the early 2000s. Screened at Cannes film festival in competition in 2022, it saw its lead actress, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, get the Palme d’or for best actress. If released in France on the big screen, its projection is prohibited in Iran.

Director Ali Abbasi’s screenplay is set in the holy city of Mashhad. In the early 2000s, a man decides to murder prostitutes by going to war against this type of sexual practice. A journalist will then investigate these facts and take terrible risks so that he is arrested, while the police do not make the discovery of this serial killer a priority.

Ali Abbasi’s film alternates between the point of view of Zar Amir Ebrahimi, who remarkably embodies the pugnacious journalist who does not want to let go of the matter, and that of Mehdi Bajestani, particularly fascinating as a very religious killer, considering that he is working for the good public.

The first three quarters of the film are particularly tense and full of real suspense that develops over the murders. The last part, which focuses on the personality of the culprit, has a certain ambiguity. Indeed, this focus on the assassin, and the space given to the explanations of his actions, puts him center stage and gives him a certain legitimacy.

Indeed, if the condition of women, especially those of very precarious people who have no other means than to sell their bodies to survive, is very well evoked in a large part of the feature film, the end gradually makes them slip in the shadows, mainly during a chilling final sequence. Because if the message of the director is very clear during a large part of his work, his finale is less convincing.

Nadim Carlsen’s work on photography is very well done. The nocturnal escapades of the journalist and the killer are impeccably rendered. The murder scenes taking place in his apartment are really well filmed.

Especially since the film takes the time to present each of the victims and make the viewer become attached to them, before offering them a tragic end. Some sequences are truly disturbing and poignant. Not to mention that Mehdi Bajestani’s interpretation is impressive and that he perfectly portrays a man of great ambiguity.

Nights of Mashhad is a good film returning to a tragic news item and highlighting in an interesting way prostitutes suffering the stigma of a society that has not left them many choices to survive, while rejecting them without pity. With a violent and chilling story, a superb production and a duo of high-flying actors, the work has a certain intrinsic ambiguity, but is definitely worth discovering.

Touching and disturbing.

The Nights of Mashhad The Review


Iran 2001, a journalist from Tehran delves into the most disreputable suburbs of the holy city of Mashhad to investigate a series of feminicides. She will quickly realize that the local authorities are in no hurry to see the case resolved. These crimes would be the work of a single man, who claims to purify the city of its sins, by attacking prostitutes at night.



- Photography : Nadim Carlsen
- Assembly : Olivia Neergaard-Holm, Hayedeh Safiyari
- Music : Martin Dirkov
- Suits: Lina Nordqvist
- Decorations: Lina Nordqvist
- Producer: Jacob Jarek, Sol Bondy, Ali Abbasi for One Two Films, Profile Pictures
- Distributer : Metropolitan FilmExport




Nights of Mashhad

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The Nights of Mashhad: The Review