Assured teenage drama from Iran
OPENS JULY 23, CERT TBC, 77 MINS
Recent Iranian art house cinema has been rightly applauded in the West for daring visual panache and effortless formal invention. So the most surprising thing about this latest release from Iran is how utterly conventional it is.
Not that there’s anything wrong here. Abdolrasoul Golbon’s debut is a solidly crafted study of 17-year-old Eidak’s frustrations with his lot as a shepherd on Iran’s mountainous border with Afghanistan. The opening reel is a delicate portrait of his tough existence, imbued with a quiet naturalism reminiscent, although not quite the equal of, Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy. When Eidak swears revenge on the city engineer responsible for the death of his father, there are moments of clunky melodrama, and the moral choices Eidak is faced with are a tad schematic. But the film is engaging and assured, and its final moments?where Eidak’s plans to emigrate come to a kind of fruition?are as devastating as anything in Michael Winterbottom’s far starker film about people-smuggling, In This World.