Color of Paradise

One of the more touching films so far this year comes from Iranian director Majid Majidi, the director of Children of Heaven. Here, Majidi again deals with children, this time focusing on Mohammed (Mohsen Ramezani), a young blind boy. Color of Paradise is the kind of movie that women will drag their men too. At the end, they will be crying, while their dates will be thoroughly bored. This is not a slam against the movie. Where most American movies bombard the senses with sex, violence, and crude humor, Color of Paradise requires a small investment in patience and thought.

Mohammed is a student at a special school for blind children. When school lets out for break, his father Hashem (Hossein Mahjub) comes to pick him up a day late. Hashem is obviously ashamed of his son and views Mohammed as a liability. He is looking for a wife, and thinks that getting rid of Mohammed will improve his chances. Despite all this, he still loves his son, and trying to figure out what to do is tearing him apart. The rest of the family loves Mohammed dearly. In fact, Hashem is blind to Mohammed's abilities. Before Hashem arrived, Mohammed managed to find a newly hatched bird that had fallen to the ground, and returned it to its nest in a nearby tree. Mohammed also has an insatiable curiosity about the world around him, and is a quick learner. When Hashem comes close to finding a bride, he selfishly whisks Mohammed away

Majidi shows a side of Iran not usually seen in movies. Hashem and Mohammed travel through lush forests to get to their small mining town. Mohammed's grandmother grows alfalfa and his sisters play in fields replete with flowers. And Mohammed takes all of this in, although he cannot see it. Every leaf and stone is there for him to touch. Majidi also elicits touching performances from Ramezani and Mahjub. Hashem's inner turmoil is entirely evident to the viewer, and Mohammed displays a childlike innocence and unwavering love for his father, in spite of his father's actions. Majidi's story is so moving because it is so simple. There are very few unnecessary details sullying the plot. The ending is a little too much like an afternoon special, but still manages to retain its power.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 25 minutes, Farsi with English subtitles, Rated PG for thematic elements.

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