TENNESSINE: LOOK IT UP

A strained relationship with the truth. That’s the thread that courses its way through the terrific Aussie indie flick, TENNESSINE.

The title comes from the name of a human-made element that has never been observed to occur naturally, and only a handful of atoms of it have ever been created. It is what Arash calls Nazanin, the lover he has flown from Iran to Australia to reunite with, to reignite their relationship, much to the chagrin of his family, most notably his mother.

It may be a case of mother knows best when Arash arrives at Melbourne Airport and Nazanin is not there to pick him up as scheduled. When she finally arrives she’s breezily apologetic as if it’s no biggie and off they set for a romantic reunion in the country.

Always apparently free spirited, Nazanin has become even more self possessed away from the shackles of authoritarian Iran with their shameful moral police policy.

Her embrace of the new country only seems to increase Arash’s sense of displacement, of disappointing his family and the deceit of fidelity to him by Nazanin.

Arash, played by the film’s writer, Osamah Sami, subtly shows the dual experience of having an out of body reaction followed by a deep dive into introspective depression.

Tense with paranoia, suspicion and an erotic charge, TENNESSINE succeeds as a slow burn psychological drama portraying the effects of displacement, belonging and love.

The elusive Nazanin, portrayed by the photo-kinetic Faezeh Alavi, is a force of nature screen presence, a high voltage performance that adds megawatts to the drama.

Directed by Amin Palangi, TENNESSINE is predominantly spoken in Persian, and is reminiscent of the quality cinema emanating from Iran in recent years.

Circumstances beyond the control of characters and the out of control consequences they trigger lead to a concentric dramatic target.