(Iran 2015)

Single mother Nahid (Sareh Bayat) is kind of a mess. She works a menial job as a typist. She can’t manage money to save her life. Her prepubescent son, Amir Reza (Milad Hasan Pour) is getting out of control. Her no good gambling drug addict ex-husband, Ahmad (Navid Mohammad Zadeh) keeps professing his love two years after their divorce. Mas’ood (Pejman Bazeghi), whom she dates on the sly, is a man of means and wants to marry her. However, her divorce decree grants Ahmad full custody of Amir Reza if she remarries. To top it all off, she’s developing a nasty case of some upper extremity affliction: carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, deQuervain’s syndrome, whatever. She’s over it all.

With echoes of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Nahid might sound like it has all the makings of a comedy. It’s not– though it does have a sense of humor. Introducing me to the concept of “temporary marriage,” it explores cultural stigma in a way I haven’t seen before. Ahmad is vice and Mas’ood is virtue, neither of which particularly appeals to Nahid. Bayat plays her as sympathetic yet flawed– she’s no heroine, and we don’t know for sure whether she’s any better off at the end than she was at the beginning of this film. But one thing is clear: she wants to live on her own terms in a society that doesn’t make that easy for her to do so. Nahid also shows Iran how I don’t picture it: cold, wet, and grey.

(AMC River East) C+

Chicago International Film Festival

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