While very much an Iranian take on many of the same themes in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver
, such an appropriate description should in no way suggest that Crimson Gold
isn’t a challenging and engrossing study of one character amidst the destructiveness of society on its own. Hussein (Hossain Emadeddin) is a medication-addled pizza deliveryman, a close friend and soon-to-be brother-in-law with Ali (Kamyar Sheisi). The film immediately puts its audience into a chokehold; the opening scene (filmed in a single, stationary take) is a botched robbery attempt that ends with Hussein shooting himself in the head before the authorities arrive. Flashback to several days prior where life is seemingly going about business as usual, but beneath the deadening, oppressive routine of it all, Hussein is a basic human being whose patience is being slowly worn down to reveal a violently ticking time bomb. Every image of Crimson Gold
, from Hussein and Ali endlessly cruising the city traffic on their moped to a young boy standing arm with an assault weapon he is obviously not learned enough to use properly, suggests the crushing weight of the upper classes bearing down on the oppressed poor. His senses dulled by the drugs needed to keep him "healthy," Hussein wanders about his have-not lifestyle while the haves impose holier-than-thou attitudes and the authorities senselessly exercise their power. The film suggests parallels with politics between the U.S. and Middle East, but is most effective in examining the oppressive behavior of society towards the lower classes who contribute just as much as everyone else. Eventually the meager scraps meant to satiate the poor fail to keep them tranquil, much like Hussein's sedative medication. As stated by a homeless man to an overbearing police officer: "Show some mercy, please."