There is rather large TV market for cornball romantic films and after seeing previews for films churned out by Heart & Home or Harlequin Films could one conclude their films are best suited for the Girl Guides?
With trepidation I watched “Tehranto” expecting a formulistic romance film but was pleasantly surprised with an intelligent and mature romance film. The narration by Navid Negahban was just about the great star of the film the tone and content being sarcastic, witty and astoundingly comforting. And the ending is far from true love conquers all. Viewers may be waiting for that mega embrace and symphonic music but instead there is doubt! Nothing is clear cut!
The two components in “Tehranto” are Tehran and Toronto. Yes the film is set in my home town about Sharon (Mo Zeighami) born of Iranian parents in Toronto who left Iran prior to the “Revolution” that gradually became a theocratic regime crushing any opposition. Sharon’s parents consider themselves more Parisian than Persian. Sharon has little ties with Iran as she feels Iran has turned its back on so many Iranians. Sharon’s mother Tessa (Masha Ghorbankarmi) is a successful real estate agent and her father (Ali Badshah) is an arrogant man and hardly likeable.
Badi (Sammy Azero) was born in Iran and escaped post “Revolution” to Toronto where he is completing his medical studies. He still obsesses about Iran and events there despite having left for Canada some 13 years ago. While Sharon considers herself Canadian of Iranian descent Badi is ostensibly Iranian but internally conflicted about exactly who he is. Badi’s family is poor his father delivering pizza and his mother unemployed. They are very welcoming of Sharon. But at a painful first family dinner with Badi at Sharon’s Richmond Hill palace her father Fred is a nasty and vindictive monster cornering and insulting Badi who explodes and tells Fred to “go fuck yourself Sir” not a phrase you hurl to a traditional Iranian father let alone any father. Even the narrator tells us he has no wish to stay for dinner after seeing what direction the dinner is heading towards. The dinner scene is as painful as the dinner scene with the parents in “Annie Hall” was ribald.
I should interject here and say the Iranians I have met in Toronto refer to themselves as Persians and not Iranians. It is almost as if they are embarrassed by the direction the theocracy has led the nation towards.
While romance is serious stuff the probing into the immigrant mentality, culture clash, family dynamics and the effects of assimilation are dealt with in the film in an intelligent and sensitive manner. There is a bit of humour to lighten the load through the amusing narration and the antics of Sharon and Badi’s pals although this is at no times a Roonie romp!
You can see the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXGaBnwesXQ
Directed by Faran Moradi.
RKS Film Rating 81/100.
There will be a Canadian theatrical release on November 25th.