(director/writer: Sadaf Forought; cinematographer: Sina Kermanizadeh; editor: Kiarash Anvari; cast: Mahour Jabbari (Ava), Vahid Aghapoor (Father), Bahar Noohian (Mother), Parnian Akhtari (Anahita), Sarah Alimoradi(Shirin), Mona Ghiasi(Yasi), Houman Hoursan (Nima), Shayesteh Sajadi (Melody), Leili Rashidi (Principal); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Sadaf Forought/Kiarash Anvari; Grasshopper Film; 2017-Iran/USA-in Persian with English subtitles)

“A welcome character study about a rebellious teenage girl in Iran.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The first feature from the Iranian-Canadian filmmaker Sadaf Forought is a welcome character study about a rebellious teenage girl in Iran. It explores the struggles of Iranian women, something the Tehran-born director knows from first-hand experience. The drama uses the director’s childhood experience to tell its credible and informative story. The 17-year-old high school student Ava (Mahour Jabbari) lives in Tehran with her family. Her architect dad (Vahid Aghapour) is a decent guy, but travels away from home frequently. Her overbearing mother (Bahar Noohian) is another story, who toes the evil lines of the repressive regime in its moral stances. Also unbearable are her strict all-girl school faculty and the repressive ruling society. The music student wants to learn the violin, but is told by mom girls are not violinists. While at her classmate Melody’s (Shayesteh Sajadi) house for a study session, the girls are caught in the bedroom applying facial make-up. Thereby Ava’s mom acts to stop her violin lessons and takes her to the gynecologist for a pregnancy test. Meanwhile the school principal (Leili Rashidi) tries to get Ava expelled for such bad behavior.Foroughi shows how the external pressures in Ava’s life might lead to a nervous break-down if she wasn’t so resolute. The lack of communication between mom and daughter is highlighted as beyond repair and that goes also for school and society. The visually creative photography by cinematographer Sina Kermanizadeh, framing shots in doorways that depict alienation, gives this film an aesthetic boost. This film should be mandatory viewing for the misguided liberal Obama and the arrogant nuclear treaty architect Kerry for signing and making a bad treaty with such a despotic regime that gives them billions to continue to buy weapons to keep their people under control and fund terrorist activities in their region of the world. When these guys lament rightfully so about Trump as a moron about foreign affairs, they should also look at themselves in the mirror.