Color of Paradise

16 Mar

Color of Paradise (reviewed 1999 in The Boston Phoenix)

Majid Majidi’s portrait of a torn Iranian family is riveting both in scope and emotional texture. At the center of Majidi’s universe is Mohammad (the arresting Mohsen Ramezani), an eight-year-old blind boy who spends the school year at an institute in Tehran and then journeys to the highlands to be with his family for the summer hiatus. As the film opens, Mohammad’s father (Hossein Mahjub, the film’s only professional actor) is late to pick up his son and when he finally does arrive; he is reticent to take possession. At home in the hills, where life unfolds in small simple strokes, Mohammad is warmly welcomed by his grandmother and sisters, but his father, a widower, remains disdainful.   He perceives the boy’s handicap as an obstacle to his proposed marriage with a woman from a strict Islamic family and tries to place Mohammad outside the homestead. The self-interested action causes a divide and triggers a chain of tragically fateful events.

Majidi, who impressed American audiences with “Children of Heaven,” makes a visually stunning film, and yet communicates the lack of sight with sensual brilliance: be it Mohammad pawing through a pile of leaves to save a hatchling or a gentle touch applied to his sister’s face to measure her growth. Like Mohammad’s ever-reaching fingers, and the soul they bear, “Color of Paradise” is poetically subtle and offers great rewards.

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