Djomeh

Hassan Yektapanah's first film attests to the deceptive simplicity of Iranian cinema, transforming the most minimal of props, scenes, and stories into a complex journey of discovery. Djomeh is a young laborer at an Iranian dairy farm, forced by the war and an imprudent love affair to emigrate from his native Afghanistan. As a foreigner, he's anything but welcome: village children steal his bicycle and throw stones at him with the tacit approval of their elders. So his apparently unrequited love for a girl who works in her father's grocery store—occasioning all kinds of unnecessary trips and purchases our smitten hero can ill afford—seems doomed to failure. Yet in his own politely stubborn way, Djomeh refuses to accept what to others seems immutable. Djomeh is a film about what's spoken and unspoken, about the finger-wagging redundancy of received wisdom and the daunting silence of “understood” conventions. Djomeh's “naivete” forces people to utter what can remain unquestioned only as long as it's unspoken. Yektapanah worked as assistant director to Abbas Kiarostami, and his main character is very similar to the young actor in Through the Olive Trees, both physically and in his dogged pursuit of a silent female. And the truck journeys between the dairy farm and the outlying villages recall many a dusty Kiarostami round-trip. Yet the straight-ahead, unblinking gaze Yektapanah directs at a doorway or a shop interior, the ingenuous class- and culture-defying openness of Djomeh's conversations with his boss, and the subtly varied rhythms of a dairy farmer's daily rounds are very different from their equivalents in Kiarostami's peripatetic urbanite-in-the-countryside quests. In Farsi with subtitles. 94 min.

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