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Film / Marmoulak

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A 2004 Iranian dramedy starring Parviz Parastui as "Reza the Lizard," a small-time crook famous for his ability to climb walls.

When he is arrested and given a life sentence for armed robbery, he nearly despairs, but manages to escape in disguise as a mullah. Unfortunately for him, he is not a religious man and the only thing he knows about religion is a quote from the mullah whose clothes he stole: "There are as many ways to God as there are people".


Reza is mistaken for a genuine cleric appointed to a small town, where he tries to hide until he can escape the country. Unfortunately for him, the prison warden is furious at his escape and will stop at nothing to recapture him.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: Reza's nocturnal outings to obtain a passport are seen by the villagers as charity work. Eventually, he becomes famous for his saintliness, which is the last thing he wants.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Faezeh's mother confides her son-in-law's moral and physical shortcomings to Reza quite frankly, which mortifies her daughter.
  • Arc Words: "There are as many ways to God as there are people."
  • Attempted Suicide: Reza. He doesn't succeed, but his injury leads to his meeting the mullah in the hospital.
  • Badass Boast: "Never mess with a man of the cloth... especially if he's from downtown Tehran!"
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  • Bad Habits: The premise of the film.
  • Becoming the Mask: Reza doesn't become an actual mullah, or even genuinely religious, but he does end up becoming a significantly better person.
  • Brick Joke: The films of Quentin Tarantino.
  • Curse Cut Short: Reza does this a lot as he struggles to pretend to be a holy man.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: The enormous thug becomes Reza's devoted follower after Reza beats him up.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Although Reza and Faezeh are attracted to each other, Reza does the honourable thing and urges her to go back to her reformed husband.
  • Domestic Abuse: Faezeh's husband used to beat her before he became a reformed character.
  • Downer Ending: Reza is eventually caught by the warden. However, the warden is implied to have somewhat softened after witnessing Reza's redemption, and Reza has undergone a great deal of Character Development.
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  • Everyone Has Standards: Reza is a common criminal, but he is disgusted by the businessman who wants to cheat on his wife under the guise of a temporary marriage, and forbids it.
  • Exact Words: The Warden tells Reza that if he rescues the bird trapped in wire, he will not have to do chores for a week. When Reza succeeds, the Warden locks him up in solitary confinement for a week, where he won't have to do chores.
  • The Fundamentalist: The Warden. Averted with the real mullah, however.
  • Funny Background Event: Mojtaba takes notes of nearly everything Reza says, even if something more important is going on.
  • Good Shepherd: The actual mullah is a very nice guy.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Faezeh's ex-husband goes from a thuggish abuser to a humble Gentle Giant who goes from door to door giving food to the poor.
    • Played for Laughs when the master forger suddenly repents of her criminal life and destroys Reza's fake passport, which she had been working on for a long time.
  • Inspector Javert: The Warden is pretty much an Expy of the original.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Reza is quick-tempered and very rough around the edges, but is ultimately a decent person.
  • Kick the Dog: The Warden puts Reza in solitary confinement for any reason or no reason.
  • Mama Bear: Faezeh's mother.
  • Not Me This Time: Reza is a criminal, but he actually is innocent of the crime he receives a life sentence for.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Reza rescues a bird trapped in some wire, which is a sign that he is actually a good-hearted person despite being a criminal.
    • The Warden excuses Reza for punching another prisoner and sends the provocateur to solitary instead. This helps establish him as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, not a simple sadist.
  • Rescue Romance: Seems to be set up, as Reza rescues Faezeh from her abusive ex-husband. Ultimately averted, however, as the husband reforms and begs her to forgive him, which Reza encourages her to do.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Ultimately, no one in the film turns out to be irredeemable.
  • Running Gag:
    • Because the mullah addressed him as "dear brother," Reza calls everyone "dear brother" as well. Even if they're a woman.
    • The complicated religious questions Mojtaba and Gholamali keep asking him.
  • Run for the Border: Reza's attempts to do this keep being thwarted.
  • Taught by Television: Reza learns how to pretend to be a mullah from watching TV preachers, who range from The Fundamentalist to discussing the theology of the filmography of Quentin Tarantino.
  • Those Two Guys: Mojtaba and Gholamali.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Warden appears to be completely sincere in his desire to bring all of his prisoners to heaven by force if necessary.
  • Your Mom: Reza manages to insult some hooligans while staying in character by telling them: "Give my respects to your mother!"