African Violet

A woman’s film. Directed by a woman featuring a story told from the female perspective. Family drama. Small film. All these can be used to describe Mona Zandi Haqiqi’s (Friday Evening) film. Besides all that, the most important thing about the film is how authentically it portrays its three lead characters. Makes us believe in and care about them.

It has been over two decades since she divorced him, but Shokoo (Fatemah Motamed-Aria (Nabat, Leila’s Dream) turns to her ex-husband. She finds out her estranged children have placed their father and her ex, Fereydoun (Reza Babak – Invitation, The Life Partner), in a nursing home. She, after consulting her present husband Reza (Saeed Agakhani – The Truck, Arvand), brings Fereydoon to live with them. Life changes for all three from that moment forward.

After spending his time in the home in a wheelchair and not speaking, Fereydoun shows what a little love and attention can do as he speaks and walks with a cane. Though to say he is happy would be an exaggeration. Wanting her ex to feel better Shokoo begins to spend more time with him doing things they used to. This affects both Fereydoun and Reza. Fereydoun begins to come out of his shell and Reza finds himself feeling jealous. Why does she do things with her ex that she does not do with him?

Shokoo finds herself acting as the peacemaker in the household. Building bridges between her past and her present. She does this with food and love for the two. Initially reluctant, Reza finds himself getting closer to Fereydoun.

Filled with emotions here which are not always verbalized. We have to invest ourselves in what is going on. The relationship between the three. The ebbs and flows, the ups and downs and the frustrations and finally love.

Not letting dialogue get in the way of how she sees her story unfolding. The director allows her actors enough time and space to breathe life into their characters. Never rushing things, Everything seems super natural. The film is not all about chatter to fill the silence. Silence is part of this world. An important part. Allows you to feel what Shokoo, Reza and Fereydoun are feeling. Allows you to absorb the background noises. Gives you time to think about what the three are thinking. A young director with a vision and a confident way of telling a story.

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