Darya, a young girl, "successful" by all typical Iranian measures, struggles with her mental and emotional problems. The combination of a controlling mother, a deceased father, and a pervert gigolo for a stepfather is enough to convince the audience that this girl has every right to be so psychologically devestated. Yet Siamak Shayeghi, the script writer/producer/director of "Baagh-e-Ferdos, 5 PM", doesn't stop at that. He puts Darya not only right in the middle of a hectic working environment and in contact with all the wrong people that could and in fact do aggravate her melancholy, but she also, like all its other inhabitants, is destined to deal with the daily challenges of life in a chaotic, morally degenerate metropolis.
If it is to be described in one sentence, I would say Baagh-e-Ferdos is a badly written script based on a very good idea that is compensated for by excellent performances from a handful of good actors and actresses, above all Reza Kianian. The poor portrayal of a psychotherapist's job, the handful of irrelevant characters that are initially underlined to excess and then are suddenly taken off the story line making one wonder what they were doing in this girl's life in the first place, the lame redundant and quite hurried ending of the film are but a few reasons not to like it. Yet, the occasional messages conveyed by the film - some products of the playwright's calculation and some, it seems, sheer accidents - make it all the same worth watching.
The issue of sex in today's Tehran's (if not Iran's) society is touched, in my opinion, in a very interesting way. In one scene the girl's mother explains to the psychiatrist, who happens to be mommy's old flame, that she think's Darya's problems are "sexual". Yet, as the story unfolds it turns out that it is not necessarily Darya, but almost the whole town, including - I dare say - the doctor himself, that suffers from a libidinal deficiency. The young stepfather, who insists on Darya calling him "dad", wants to take her to a trip to satisfy his incestuous fantacies. A middle-aged cab driver who suddenly starts talking to Darya about "how bad things have gone" and tells her the story of a passenger of his, a teenage prostitute that makes several house calls during the day, goes on practically calling Darya a prostitute too, when a group of young men start harassing her. The young chauffeur who has been hired by Darya's mother to make her fall in love with him ends up harassing Darya for not paying much attention to him. Darya's colleague, the lady engineer, discusses their wealthy client who has come to check out on the progress of their project. Darya tells her that he seems to be a "gentleman"; meaning that his conduct was all business and not sexually charged. Interestingly enough, after Darya made this remark, the lady engineer expressed disappointment, complaining about her bad luck of always running into men of "all business and no play."
Iranians' single-minded idea of "success" is another issue that is protrayed in a subtle way. Throughout the film, many explicit and implicit refereces are made to what constitutes being a "successful" person in Iran. Darya's mother cannot help it but to mention Darya's success, i.e. having a degree from a European university, ironically while she is begging the doctor to help her get a grip on her life. In another scene, the young man explains to the doctor that although he has been employed as a chauffeur, he is in fact a "successful" guy, because he is a medical student. However, judging from Mr. Shayeghi's portrayal of other concepts, such as simplicity, and nobility, I would say this subtlety in ironic portrayal of "success" is most probably accidental.
Despite all its technical and artistic shortcommings, the movie was certainly worth watching if nothing for posing this fundamental question: Is lunacy an individual or collective problem? Was it Darya who needed therapy or the ones around her, or maybe both? What does psychotherapy mean? To enable the patient to regain her sanity or to merely enable her to live with the surrounding insanity? Was Darya eventually cured or did she simply learn to be a "looney" herself? In a scene where the doctor is perfoming group therapy on people who each suffer from some sort of fear and anxiety, one of the patients asks the doctor: "I am affraid...Do you understand what I mean?" "Yes," nodded the doctor with an unmistakably sincere expression on his face.