Though the message comes across loud and clear, the four tales suffer from being narratively uneven, making the film’s two-and-a-half-hour running time seem long indeed.
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The film grapples with the various shapes that guilt and honor (or lack thereof) might take in a context of state-sanctioned death.
Not since A Short Film About Killing has a filmmaker produced such a thrilling case against capital punishment, an enraging, enthralling, enduring testament to the oppressed.
The movie provokes the wonder and terror of what it means to live in a world where every resolution brings new questions, and the prospects that a happy ending might carry the greatest risk of all.
The pleasures of watching There Is No Evil—a title that grows more piercingly ironic as the film progresses—are considerable.
Although There Is No Evil is a brave and impassioned work, the seams show.
There Is No Evil comes across as four films for the price of one, none of its segments anemic, and each contributing fresh insights to the paradoxes of capital punishment in Iran.
When juxtaposed against a history of Iranian cinema that has often relied on child-centric allegory and non-specific narrative to make its societal critiques, There Is No Evil practically blisters with the intensity of specifically living in Iran as it exists now, as a state once believed to carry out the most executions of any country outside China.
The film’s as compassionate as it is unsettling, and as provocative as it is poignant.
The Iranian production There is No Evil (Persian title: Satan Doesn’t Exist) may not revive the portmanteau film to its former glory (the comic 1963 Italian Oscar-winning trilogy Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow being a stellar example), but it’s a comparatively solid quartet of short films that critically examine the country’s dehumanizing system of capital punishment, putting a human face on the citizen-executioner asked to carry out the all-too-frequently enacted death penalty.