Asghar Farhadi’s new film, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, continues the Iranian auteur’s deep thematic fascination with the intersection of class and morality; again, it challenges our ethical assumptions by forcing us to consider the seemingly unreasonable actions of someone against their own penurious circumstances.
Like Rahim in Farhadi’s 2021 Oscar-nominated film A Hero, who found himself continuing an ongoing deceit when faced with the possibility of finding release from debtor’s prison, Chris Pine’s Edgin in the new film finds himself having to compromise his own deeply held beliefs when presented with the opportunity to steal a chest full of gold coins. Around this simple premise Farhadi spins his trademark web of ever-deepening complications, with multiple characters from all walks of society consistently adding to the complicated moral terrain.
Farhadi, as we all know by now, faces his own complicated ethical landscape, as he stands accused of plagiarism, not only for the plot of A Hero, but also for those of some of his earlier celebrated films such as The Past and his 2011 masterpiece A Separation. His bold move in Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, which some will find bracing and others may find solipsistic and egocentric, is to reset the film’s parameters radically in the astonishing third act, placing Edgin on trial in an Iranian ‘Art Prison’ and having him answer, essentially, for the charges facing Farhadi himself. This long sequence, seen entirely from the point of view of locked-off B&W security cameras placed high in the corners of the courtroom and in Persian (which Pine seems to have mastered well), is tense, rigorous, and teeming with big ideas, much like Farhadi’s entire body of work. Whatever you think about his methods, his results are always plain to see.