Somewhere in Iran, a construction site buzzes with the activity of mostly illegal (unregistered) Afghan refugees under the eye of building manager Memar (Mohammad Amir Naji). Teenager Lateef (Hossein Abedini) is resentful of them, especially when the young son of an injured worker, Rahmat (Zahra Bahrami) takes his caretaker's job serving tea and meals to the workers. The slender and weak Rahmat is an easy target of resentment in the poverty stricken team, until Lateef discovers Rahmat's secret: he's a girl. The deception is one of life's necessities in a quest for survival amidst the million displaced Afghan refugees in Iran. Lateef's resentment turns to infatuation, even as they two are separated by the forces of fate.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It was in blissful ignorance of the story that I saw a preview of this film, and I am sorry if you have read the synopsis, because it robs the film of some of its power to reveal itself to you. But there is much more that isn't in the synopsis that will make up for that. Majid Majidi, who made the well received Children of Heaven, creates a wonderful, subtle film that is at once a restrained love story - in which the lovers never even kiss - and a metaphor for his own society as well as the wider universe.
Baran is set almost entirely on a suburban construction site in Northern Iran, which is awash with Afghan refugees. Many are illegal workers who survive day by day as labourers. The setting is a surprisingly rich environment for cinematic exploration of human behaviour. It could be seen as Majidi's metaphor for his country, at once busy and conflicted, building yet destroying. It is also a social hothouse, where the resentment of the locals against the foreign workers is portrayed through Lateef's eyes, a volatile and mischievous youngster.
But his simplistic antagonism is turned on its head when his expectations are up-ended by the young boy/girl. He not only reverses his attitude, he takes severe risks on her behalf; his attraction to her, fired by the context, propels him to take great personal risks. Majidi delivers this story through subtleties, drawing us into the specific world he portrays in one tiny part of Iran. Filled with honest performances and exceptional detail, Baran is a gentle film with dramatic punch, a haunting ode to humanity.
Published May 22, 2008
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BARAN: DVD (PG)
CAST: Hossein Abedini, Zahra Bahrami, Mohammad Amir Naji, Abbas Rahimi, Gholam Ali Bakhshi, Jafar Tawakoli, Hossein Mahjoub
PRODUCER: Majid Majidi, Fouad Nahas
DIRECTOR: Majid Majidi
SCRIPT: Majid Majidi
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mohammad Davudi
EDITOR: Hassan Hassandoost
MUSIC: Ahmad Pezhman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Behzad Kazzazi
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: May 21, 2008