Not all questions in life are answered nor are things always perfect, these are also things that you have to accept in the film Modest Reception.
Modest Reception is a foreign indie film by Mani Haghighi that is both a dark comedy and a psychological exploration of the human soul. The film travels on the wild joy ride of two people that hand out millions of bank notes to the people of a lower-class Iranian village. Because many of the questions are purposely left unanswered, the intentions of the film are not fully understood. But if you take the film for what it is, a simple film that does not explain everything that goes on, you will not be disappointed.
A SUV traveling on a mountain road is stopped by a soldier who asks to see some identification. The two passengers are in the middle of a flamboyant verbal fight that does not stop just because their vehicle has. The driver of the vehicle, Leyla (Taraneh Alidoosti), gets out of the vehicle in order to search for her iPhone that Kaveh (Mani Haghighi) had just thrown out the window. The audience can relate to the solider who is just watching them in awe as the two open up their trunk and proceed to throw several bags full of money at him. Before he can ask questions, the couple takes off down the road in amusement.
The film elects to add even more mystery to the equation. First of all, the relationship between the two main characters is never clarified. They might be husband and wife, father or daughter, or share no relation at all. Secondly, they have a whole trunk full of money that they carefully plan to hand out. Yet the reason for them handing out the money changes each time they are asked. And lastly, they receive mysterious calls from someone who wants them to document their acts of generosity but it is not specified why they must record themselves doing it.
Modest Reception gets much more interesting when it decides to change gears about half way through the film. After a string of dispensing money in a generous fashion, the two begin to play some rather twisted games with the people they encounter as if even they were getting bored with playing nice. Granted some of the deals they strike up with people in exchange for a load of cash are despicable and cruel, but it makes ends up making the story more thought-provoking. The consequences the two find while trying to hand out money are fascinating. They find it is actually much more difficult than it may seem to just give money away. But the ultimate question the film is trying to make is, how much are people willing to give up their soul for?
Not all questions in life are answered nor are things always perfect, these are also things that you have to accept in the film Modest Reception. The film starts out as if it was a light comedy but grows darker and darker with each passing scene. Some of their motivations do eventually come out, but it is anyone’s guess if they are telling the truth at the time or not. What remains is a film that is well acted and filmed, even if the film is off-putting to some and its social commentary may fall on deaf ears.