Sara (Sadaf Asgari) and Hamed (Amirreza Ranjbaran) move from hospital to hospital in Tehran. They have had sex and have to face the consequences. But they aren’t married and hospital after hospital refuses them the care they so desperately need and search, also putting a strain on their relationship.
Disappearance is a very effective comment on what happens when (bodily) autonomy is severely undercut and it’s a very effective film in general.
Disappearance shows that limiting the right to bodily autonomy, especially when it comes to sex and reproductive rights, doesn’t prevent anything “indecent” to happen: even under repressive circumstances, people will have sex. It can’t be prevented, even if that is your goal. To then put them through a gauntlet of “buts” and “ifs” to make sure that they have sex safely in the first place, and then for them to get the necessary care, is punitive and doesn’t make any sense for anybody.
I can’t imagine that you can sit through this film and watch Sara and Hamed struggle and not feel like they are being mistreated by and in the system set up. And who stands to gain from that system? That remains unclear.
There’s much in the film to discover and a lot of it is basic feminist discourse, so if you’ve spent some time with that, there’s not much new in the film (although seeing the story taking place in Tehran certainly is). But since we have to fight some fights over and over again – and reproductive rights/bodily autonomy is one (or several) of those fights, it definitely can’t hurt to have the point made as eloquently as with this film.
Amirreza Ranjbaran and Sadaf Asgari are both great in their roles and give the story the necessary emotion. Ali Asgari put those ingredients into a film that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until it’s well and ready to.