It's a girl. The first words spoken in Jafar Panahi's The Circle should be celebratory, but instead the mood of the scene is mournful. The relatives will be furious. Director Jafar Panahi leaves the innocence of his delightful The White Balloon behind in this harrowing, passionate portrait of the plight women endured in Iran before the easing of strict Muslim law. His vision of women scrambling through streets and dodging cops like fugitives in a police state is more of a nightmarish fable than a realist drama, but no less affecting for it. Panahi drifts through the stories of a handful of women recently released from prison (their crimes are left ominously vague) with an easy grace and an angry sense of injustice that brings us full circle: back to prison, where a cell door shuts with a deafening clang that reverberates through the credits and beyond.