Maryam is so quaint and lovely I couldn’t stop thinking of the nostalgic, long-gone TV show Brooklyn Bridge. Sixteen-year-old New Jersey high school student Maryam (Mariam Parris) is perhaps too archetypically alienated from her motherland—as far as she’s concerned, the events in Iran (here, 1979’s Iran Hostage Crisis) have nothing to do with her. Darius (Shaun Toub), her doctor father, may inexplicably pull her out of after-school journalism classes but he never becomes a ham-fisted representation of stern parenthood. And despite the film’s cartoonish Caucasian bullies (“We’re going to be watching you Iranians!”), director Ramin Serry does wonders with evocative archival footage and the evolving emotional intensity between Maryam and her mother Homa, played by the outstanding Shohreh Aghdashloo. Ali (David Ackert), Maryam’s fundamentalist Muslim cousin, comes to live with the family and begins to threaten their sense of political and religious complacency. Key to the film’s success is the studied way in which Ali and Mary begin to understand each other’s belief systems just as the family unit begins to crumble. During the film’s most introspective moment, Homa slaps Ali for calling her daughter a whore only to be reprimanded by her own husband for having no respect. Serry deftly underplays the melodrama that seems to plague the film’s second half. Also noteworthy is the film’s wistful cinematography by the ultra-talented Harlan Bosmajian (La Ciudad and Comedy Central’s Strangers with Candy). Most impressive, though, is the film’s open-ended finale that refuses to entirely close its characters’ emotional wounds. Post-9/11, Maryam feels timelier than ever, an essential learning tool.
- Streetlight Films
- 87 min
- Ramin Serry
- Ramin Serry
- Mariam Parris, David Ackert, Shaun Toub, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Maziyar Jobrani, Sabine Singh, Victor Jory, Michael Blieden, Jason Nash
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