Majidi masterfully balances the serious subtext with entertaining vignettes.
Stream Children of Heaven
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This modestly produced family drama has all the poignancy and humor associated with today's vibrant Iranian film industry.
In Children of Heaven, life is sweet despite countless hardships, and no reality beyond the economic intrudes upon a fairy tale atmosphere. Only through heavy-handed emphasis does the quest for new sneakers take on any greater meaning.
One problem leads to another, but because the children's points of view are so powerfully rendered, the plot of this elegant and lightly magical-realist 1997 drama never seems merely coincidental.
The poverty that is at the heart of the situation is in prominent relief, yet there is a happiness about their lives that defies sheer gloss. Here is a brother and sister who truly love each other and are bonded by their complicity.
Clumsily staged (a bike accident any 15-year-old Super-8 maven could’ve cut better), lit like a soap opera, and acted with all the bribed relish of a peanut butter commercial, Majidi’s movie is merely the simplistic bid being made by every national industry impatient for mass audience attention. Gallingly, it may succeed.
Though Majidi draws from familiar Iranian sources, he's made something unique and moving: a sweet tale with a stirring finish.
This is a pellucid and gentle film, made with the simplicity and grace of a children's tale and yet its humour, emotional clarity and directness speak directly to adults and children alike - and the pre-teen principals shoulder an adult burden of performance.
Haunting in its charm, Children of Heaven opens a window on both contemporary Tehran and the hopeful heart of childhood. This lovely, amusing film deserves a big audience -- especially families. It touches on the innocence of children with tremendous affection.
Children of Heaven is very nearly a perfect movie for children, and of course that means adults will like it, too.