A MESMERIZING BIRD'S EYE VIEW INTO IRANIAN CULTURE...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 12/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an outstanding and compelling film with moving, superlative performances by the cast. The film chronicles the marriage of a young, Iranian couple, Leila and Reza, in modern day Tehran. They are affluent, attractive and very much in love. All is well, until they realize that Leila is barren and unable to bear children. While Leila and Reza appear to have come to terms with this, Reza's mother has not. She begins an almost daily harangue on the issue of her only son taking a second wife, a move which is perfectly legal in Iran. The mother-in-law does not let up, appealing to Leila's sense of tradition and family obligation. Though Reza insists that he does not care if he has children, he does not stop his mother's constant harangue of Leila. Slowly but surely, Leila's resistance to the idea of a second wife begins to erode, and her mother-in-law ultimately convinces her that Reza must have a child of his blood, and as Leila cannot meet this obligation, a second wife is a must. The film takes the viewer through the process of the selection of the second wife and Leila's role in that process. One sees the personal devastation that this causes her. One senses Reza's ambivalence about the matter and his reluctance in taking a second wife. Yet, such is the power of love and deft manipulation that both Leila and Reza continue with actions that further this cause, until the moment of truth arrives. The reality is one which is nigh unbearable.This is an absolutely mesmerizing film. Leila Hatami, as Leila, gives a beautifully moving, well nuanced, award calibre performance. One feels the depth of her distress over this situation, and the viewer's heart breaks for her, as her own heart is breaking. Ali Mossafa is terrific as the ineffectual Reza, who is unable to stand up to his mother. The love between Leila and Reza is palpable, and it shines throughout the film, even though the two do not physically touch during the film, as it is forbidden for them to do so publicly. Leila is shrouded in traditional style, as are all the women in the film. Yet, interestingly enough, the women are very independent, assertive, and opinionated. It is an iteresting melange of the modern with the traditional.The film is an eloquent portrayal of the clash between the modern marriage and tradition in a country that is in a state of flux. It is an incisive look at a culture in which a second wife is an option for consideration and at the potential impact of the exercise of such an option.All in all, this is a fantastic film that opens the window onto another culture, so different to ours in so many ways, yet so alike in others. This is a beautifully wrought film that should be seen by as many viewers as is possible. It is an absolute masterpiece. Bravo!"
A woman's hard choice in tradition-bound Iran
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 11/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1996 Iranian film, which was brought to American audiences in 1999, was written and directed by Dariush Mehrjui who was trained in filmmaking at UCLA and has gone on to produce many outstanding films in his native land. "Leila" is one of them, a drama that raises some very interesting socially conscious questions. In Farsi, with English subtitles, it puts the viewer right into the heart of Teheran. And right into the hearts and minds of Leila and Razi, a young affluent married couple.There is no doubt that they are in love and their life is a happy one. They live in a modern, well-furnished house with a huge refrigerator and abundant wonderful food. They laugh a lot and exchange loving looks. And declare their love to each other all the time. He's a successful businessman and they get along well with their huge extended families of relatives. She's a beautiful woman, with huge dark eyes and fine features. Yes, she wears a black chador at all times, but I came to see it as simply the way that women dress in Iran.Problem is that, in spite of modern medical techniques, Leila remains barren. Her husband Razi says he doesn't care. That he loves her just the way she is and doesn't want children. But then there's her controlling mother-in-law, who starts to bully Leila into accepting a second wife. In Iranian culture, polygamy is accepted, even though everyone around Leila, with the exception of the mother-in-law, is against this "second-wife" idea.I found myself holding my breath as the pressures on Leila mounted and tensions increased. I couldn't stop watching as events unfolded. I felt all the conflicting emotions that Leila felt, as the story grew more and more intense. The decision was Leila's and she was given free will to make her choice. Over and over again, this concept of making a conscious choice was emphasized. That is what made this film great. I loved it."
Poorest quality DVD spoils this nice Iranian movie
A. Gasim | 07/20/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"i share the positive reviews written about this film;
however "first run features" studio managed in spoiling the beauty of the film totally...by releasing a DVD of poorest quality...you can't even see the facial features to recognize the actors...every frame is dark, cloudy and featureless.
I'm irritated by the greedy studios that want to make fast money with minimal effort possible from their side...
their pure incompetence succeeds in negating all the creative efforts in this movie...avoid this DVD.
in comparison, "the color of paradise" is a beautiful film released beautifully in DVD by columbia/tristar. 5 star"
A Truly Great Film
Dennis | Glendale, US, Canada | 04/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My wife and I were riveted from the first minute to the last, and there are very few films about which we can say this. You enter the lives of a couple and their families, and you will not soon forget them. In the best sense of great literature, the protagonists are parochial but the subject matter is thoroughly universal. Any couple that has ever discussed the question of whether marital love needs children will especially enjoy this deep, powerful film. The acting is so good, you begin to think you have entered real people's lives. In a sense you have."