That's it, that's all, and, as scripted by Abbas Kiarostami ("Through the Olive Trees") and filmed by first-time director (and former Kiarostami assistant) Jafa Panahi, that's a whole lot. Relatively free of thorny religious and political issues, "Children's movies" are a comparably "safe" proposition in Iranian cinema. Think of it, however, as a variation of Italian neo-realism--compassion, humanity-- with more than a dash of humor. Panahi captures Tehran as a bustling city full of both ordinary and unusual people. The film is a thrill precisely because it is a modest, almost miniature-like, endeavor. Each individual character, major or minor, is splendidly well-defined. The acting is invisible (I mean it as a compliment), and I defy anyone not to fall in love with the seven-year old actress who plays Razieh with a miraculous refusal of terminal cuteness (No Hughes-ian Spielbergitis here)
One hopes Kiarostami and Panahi have it in their contract that under no circumstances are
remake rights to be sold. One cringes at the idea of a Culkinized version.
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