Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Children of Heaven (Bacheha-Ye aseman)

1997, color feature, 88 minutes
Directed and written by Majid Majidi
Producer, Amir Esfandiari, Mohammad Esfandiari
In Persian with subtitles
All ages

This Iranian film centers on a brother and sister forced to share a pair of sneakers when the boy Ali (played beautifully by Amir Farrokh Hashemian) loses his sister Zahra's newly-repaired shoes. A meditation on Iranian daily life (including scenes at a mosque), scarcity vs. plenty, and family bonds, Children of Heaven is also a suspenseful yarn. Its PG rating, as near as I can figure, has to do with Ali's father yelling "shit!" when his bicycle breaks stop working and he and his son are about to crash. Also, he is verbally harsh with his family, particularly at the beginning, but it quickly becomes clear that he is honest and loving, if overworked. Engaging, stunning to look at, a glimpse at Iranian culture that has a realistic feel. I'm giving this the "girl power" label because Ali's sister Zahra, played by Bahare Seddiqi, washes the dishes, tends the baby, cleans the house, and gets her homework done—one could imagine such a girl growing up to be a world leader.

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