Bahar (Pegah Ahangarani) and Parisa (Baran Kosari) are two young women, graduate students, in contemporary Iran. We meet them shopping for shoes the day before their friend Samira’s (Rana Azadivar) wedding. As the young women depart to go home for the night, the receive a mysterious phone call, advising them that Samira is dead and the wedding has been called off.
In shock, Bahar and Parisa set out the next day to find out what happened. Samira’s family seem tight-lipped, especially her father (Babak Karimi). Eventually they find their way to Samira’s fiancé, Mansour (Hamed Behdad), who also has little to share about tragedy. Piece by piece, the story of Samira’s demise is revealed, in way that is every bit as thrilling as it is tragic.
Compassionate, thoughtful and humane, The Girl’s House manages a subtle form of social criticism that never feels forced or heavy handed. The film makers are careful not to tell viewers what to think, instead showing a series of paradoxes that reveal much about life in Iran, but also transcend that culture and speak to the situation of women all around the world. From the careful opening sequences to the compelling final moments, the focus is on young women, their faces, their emotions and their efforts to navigate the social and cultural expectations placed upon them while also trying to be true to femininity and hoping to find love and happiness in their time.
The Girl’s House is director Shahram Shah Hosseini’s fourth feature and in so many ways it exemplifies what we have come to expect from contemporary Iranian cinema. It is a crisp, tight, artfully composed and brilliantly acted drama. Every frame seems well composed, every scene feels necessary and every performance feels believable. This is a great film and yet another landmark in what must surely be one of the richest periods in world cinema. Highly recommended and out pick for the best film of the Tokyo International Film Festival.