Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Ddjomeh, a young Afghani, works on a small dairy farm in the Iranian mountains. He came to Iran with fellow-countryman Habib, an older and more conservative man who chides him for his youthful naivete and exuberance.

Every morning Djomeh drives into town with Mr Mahmoud, the farm owner. Innocently, Djomeh wonders why the middle-aged Mr Mahmoud is not married, and remarks on the difference between Afghanistan and Iran: in his homeland, it's remarkable if a man is not married at 20, while here in Iran he sees many 40-year-old men who have not yet settled down to raise a family.

By way of response Mr Mahmoud questions Djomeh about his relationships. We learn that back in Afghanistan he was involved with an older woman. Though she was a widow, their relationship was still scandalous enough to precipitate Djomeh's emigration with Habib.

In town, Djomeh goes to the store, where he courts the shopkeeper's daughter Setareh. But his circumstances - poor, foreign, unaccustomed to the local culture - are hardly propitious.

Writer-director Hassan Yektapanah is a disciple of Abbas Kiarostami, whom he acknowledges "taught me how to look at the world and think". The great film-maker's influence is apparent in the naturalism of debutant Yektapanah's direction and in the performances he elicits from his cast, although Djomeh is also free of the self-reflexivity that characterises much of Kiarostami's work, such as And Life Goes On and Close-Up. But for the absence of an establishing voice-over or suchlike, one could almost believe that Djomeh was a documentary.

A modest, unpretentious film whose heartfelt humanism shines through, Djomeh heralds the arrival of another major talent in contemporary Iranian cinema (arguably, director for director and film for film, the best there is at the moment) and reminds us of how an unadorned, universalist tale of human relationships can often be the most satisfying.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A young Afghani in Iran tries to woo a prospective bride.

Director: Hassan Yektapanah

Writer: Hassan Yektapanah

Starring: Jalil Nazari, Mahmoud Behraznia, Rashid Akbari

Year: 2000

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: Iran


EIFF 2000

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