Capsule reviews for Feb. 9

Basmati Blues

Filmed more than five years ago, this eye-rolling low-budget musical is just now reaching theaters, presumably to capitalize on a starring turn by Oscar-winner Brie Larson. She plays a young scientist at an American manufacturer of genetically modified rice who is selected by the greedy CEO (Donald Sutherland) to head a marketing effort in India. Upon arrival, she navigates some cultural barriers while flirting with a local farmer (Utkarsh Ambudkar) who’s selling a competing product. Along the way, the film indulges in stereotypes while showcasing some mediocre musical numbers that are neither charming nor memorable. Larson’s charismatic screen presence can’t elevate such woefully lackluster material. (Not rated, 106 minutes).



The search for the meaning of life takes some melodramatic turns in this offbeat comedy about Ben (Thomas Middleditch), driven to the brink of suicide after a bad breakup. He sets out to find the woman who his parents almost adopted as his sister, which leads him to a meet-cute with the sassy Hanna (Jess Weixler), who causes him to rethink his life. There are some scattered big laughs and inspired visual gimmicks. However, Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”) is more annoying than endearing, while the script relies on quirks instead of heart. For a film that requires an emotional buy-in, the characters lack sufficiently realistic grounding. (Not rated, 85 minutes).


Golden Exits

Those familiar with the filmography of misanthropic director Alex Ross Perry (Queen of Earth) will best appreciate this quietly perceptive examination of midlife crises and unraveling marriages. The intersecting stories center on a Brooklyn archivist (Adam Horovitz) whose alluring young assistant (Emily Browning) draws suspicion from his wife (Chloe Sevigny) and meddling sister-in-law (Mary-Louise Parker). Perry’s sharply written screenplay feels more authentic than contrived, presenting familiar scenarios without clear-cut divisions between heroes and villains or simple paths to catharsis. The mildly pretentious result features more talk than action, yet benefits from intriguing character dynamics and a strong ensemble cast. Just don’t expect to be uplifted. (Rated R, 94 minutes).


Tehran Taboo

Even if the intentions outweigh the execution, this animated drama provides a powerful glimpse into Iranian women rebelling against contemporary oppression in the titular city’s patriarchal culture. Specifically, it tracks the socioeconomic struggles of a female escort, a nightclub singer, and an expectant mother each trying to break free from traditional gender roles. The rotoscope animation provides a gorgeous visual backdrop — at first arbitrary, then necessary — for the episodic narrative structure, although some segments in the screenplay by rookie director Ali Soozandeh are more compelling than others. Although the themes are familiar (Persepolis comes to mind), the urgency still strikes a resonant chord that transcends borders. (Not rated, 96 minutes).