Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Mariam Parris, David Ackert, Shaun Toub, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Maz Jobrani
Director: Ramin Serry
New HD transfer, 5.1, director & producer commentary
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An Intense Historic Drama Of Conflicting Cultures - Superb!
Jana L. Perskie | New York, NY USA | 09/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Maryam" is an intense and moving film about an Iranian-American teenager growing up in the US during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Maryam Armin, (sensitively portrayed by Maryam Parris), is a very Americanized teenage girl, who was born in Iran, to Iranian parents. The Armin family moved to New Jersey when Maryam was just a baby, supposedly in search of a better life. Her father, (Shaun Toub), is a doctor with a thriving practice, and a respected member of his affluent community. He and his wife, (Shoreh Aghdashloo), are proud of their daughter, and live an assimilated lifestyle in the NJ suburbs, barbecues and all. Maryam, a "high achiever," active in her school journalism club, with the coveted position of anchor on the club's "features broadcast," is the portrait of the typical American teen in the late 1970s, complete with crushes and catty friends. Then her first cousin, Ali, comes from Iran to stay with the family while he gets his Masters Degree.Ali's visit is the catalyst for major change in the Armin family. His father and mother are both dead, and the Armins are all he has left. He is a devout Muslim and a dedicated Iranian revolutionary, who hates the former Shah and believes he should be brought back to Iran, tried and executed. At first Ali and Maryam do not get along. He is judgmental of her American ways, and her "airhead" friends, (and the film really portrays these American teenagers as totally shallow creatures). She resents his strict fundamentalism and ineffective attempts to chaperone her. They do develop a strong bond as they begin to know each other as individuals, rather than as stereotypes. Ali has vivid memories of Miryam as a baby, when both families lived together in Teheran, and remembers how much he loved her then. He also harbors a dark family secret, and as time goes by it becomes more difficult for him to keep silent.Coinciding with Ali's arrival from Teheran, is the Ayatollah Khomeini's arrival in Iran, the Shah's arrival in New York City seeking medical care, and the hostage-taking of American Embassy personnel in Teheran. Director Ramin Serry effectively weaves news footage into the story, dramatically portraying the historical events that are to impact this family's life so strongly.Schoolmates change their attitude toward Maryam with the hostage taking. They see her for the first time as an Iranian, and not an American. Prejudiced friends and neighbors shun the Armin family, and Ali becomes more polarized and marginalized as the events take on a momentum of their own. The various family and political confrontations, the revelation of a shameful family secret, and the ironic conclusion to this absorbing film are extraordinarily dramatic, and make "Maryam" so compelling.Ramin Serry's script is excellent, his primary characterizations clear, and he keeps the pace going at a nice clip. He captures the ambiance of 1979 America, but his American characters are blatant caricatures. They are superficial to the extreme, especially Maryam's school friends. This is a major flaw, and it is an obvious one, especially when everything else in the movie is so realistic. Serry's portrayal of the prejudice the Amin family suffers is palpable, and so relevant today, in the post September 11th world. This film is a real eye-opener, and should be a must-see!
D. Peters | UK | 01/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A beautifully crafted story setting a family drama against the backdrop of international events. Great performances from the main characters and a convincing evocation of the era. Explores a lot of issues about what it means to be American. This rocks."
A simple story, simply told...
GLBT | Illinois | 03/26/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"From a film-maker's perspective, there's nothing to recommend about "Maryam." Some reviewers have compared it to an ABC After-School Special (the ultimate insult) and I can see where they're coming from. This is movie-making by the numbers, with a low budget, adequate-but-not-great acting, and the occasional moment of melodrama.The story itself, however, is somewhat interesting. Maryam is an Iranian-American who is fully and happily Americanized. Life becomes difficult, however, when her Iranian cousin comes to stay with her family. He's somewhat radical in his Islamic beliefs and between his inability to adapt to the American culture and the concurrent historical events (the taking of the American hostages by the Iranian government) it suddenly becomes very difficult for Maryam to blend in. As someone who's very interested in cultural issues and international relations, I mostly enjoyed the movie. It was never great, but was often interesting enough to keep my attention. The ending, however, does go a little over-the-top as the Islamic cousin decides to sneak into a hospital and try to kill the former Shah of Iran. That, and the scenes of him waving his gun around like a lunatic seemed a tad bit silly. But, overall, the movie was good.For those of you who are interested in seeing Iran from a fresh perspective, however, I STRONGLY recommend a book (graphic novel, actually) titled "Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood." Persepolis is the autobiography of Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian woman who was just a girl when the Shah was deposed and the Iran/Iraq war began. "Persepolis" is everything that "Maryam" wants to be but isn't."
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 09/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a beautifully actualized film in which an Iranian-American, New Jersey teenager, Maryam (Mariam Parris), gets involved in a head on collision with her cultural past , when her Muslim fundamentalist first cousin, Ali (David Ackert), arrives from Iran to stay with her family in 1979. Though born in Iran, Maryam was a young child when her parents (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Shaun Toub) fled Iran after the fall of the Shah in the nineteen seventies. Consequently, Maryam is culturally American.Ali's visit, coupled with the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, act as a focal point in the film, as Maryam struggles to reconcile her cultural heritage with world events and everyday, coming-of-age situations, such as first love. All this is complicated further by Ali's strong fundamentalist views. Ali's presence also brings to the forefront a tragic family secret that has been lying dormant.This film is deftly directed by Ramin Serry, and the stellar cast give superlative performances. Mariam Parris is a complete natural before the camera, giving a relaxed, yet compelling and mature performance, infusing her character with just the right amount of insouciance. David Ackert is superb as the culturally challenged Ali. Shaun Toub and Shohreh Aghdashloo are terrific as the strict parents of a teenage girl who is coming of age in a country that is not culturally their own. This cinematic gem is well worth watching for those who are interested in other cultures or who just enjoy a very good film."