Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Taut, tense, and then harrowing, Shirin is an excellent piece of film-making. Shot in crisp black and white, pillars of incense-smoke climb from a suburban table. Daughter and father, an unanswered telephone, distance at an intimate level.

There are family photos, weighted glances, unwound clocks for the shop, clocks hiding childhood pictures, reminiscences of breathing steadily from a bluff - "in out, in out", light and space.

There's symbolism aplenty, enough thematic clues and context to push in the direction of an understanding. This is a film about a certain kind of family, even to the kitchen sink, but it's a mark of its quality how ably it wrong-foots. Stephen Fingleton writes and directs, his script alluding enough to uncles and mothers and revision and "biology" to gives us a sense to make, eliciting good performances from Bhasker Patel as Javad and Hussina Raja as Shirin, his daughter. Things unsaid, looks unlooked, that ringing telephone, an address-book unconsulted and a text message sent. An immigrant family, settled in Britain, tradition and circumstance clashing. "My daugher... going to be a doctor", "You wouldn't want to leave those dishes for your mother." It is a conversation around a subject, but it builds steadily enough that we soon have a picture of it.

There is recollection of times past in that steady certain monochrome, neat spaces and the cramped physicality of the small dining table. Cultures and consequences, lies and surprises. The end, when it comes, is shocking, literally colourful, and all the more stunning for its implications. Words cannot be said about it. In retrospect it makes everything else more haunting, accuses the audience of complicity, adds further meaning to everything that has gone before. We are not alone in watching, but we are the few who are horrified.

Reviewed on: 07 Feb 2012
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A father breaks his dinnertime silence when his daughter reveals plans to go out for the evening.

Director: Stephen Fingleton

Writer: Stephen Fingleton

Starring: Hussina Raja, Bhasker Patel, George Savvides, Günalp Koçak

Year: 2012

Runtime: 13 minutes

Country: UK


Glasgow 2012

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