For a while it seemed like any movie made in Iran was an automatic masterpiece. Sadly, those days are over, and Baran is at best a decent film. It was written and directed by Majid Majidi, who made the fabulous Children of Heaven a few years ago. Like a lot of Iranian filmmakers, he’s moved away from the signature "children in tense situations" genre that marked Iranian cinema’s recent golden age. In Baran his lead is a 17-year-old boy who works at a construction site. He falls in love with an Afghani girl, but is utterly incapable of expressing his love and winds up ruining his life in a piecemeal fashion. The boy’s motivations are obscure, and much of what he does makes little sense, leaving him an unsympathetic character for the film to focus on. Perhaps it’s a problem of cultural difference, but Baran mostly left me cold, though it is beautiful and occasionally compelling.


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