Review: ‘Kimia’

A solidly made and affecting melodrama of wartime's lingering after-effects, "Kimia" shows again the Iranian cinema's skill at using durable genres to treat socially resonant subjects. Telling of a man who's not only separated from his daughter traumatically but finds their reunion fraught with difficulty, pic should fare especially well with fest auds attuned to recent Iranian achievements.

A solidly made and affecting melodrama of wartime’s lingering after-effects, “Kimia” shows again the Iranian cinema’s skill at using durable genres to treat socially resonant subjects. Telling of a man who’s not only separated from his daughter traumatically but finds their reunion fraught with difficulty, pic should fare especially well with fest auds attuned to recent Iranian achievements.

Tale opens on a frenetic, calamitous vision of the Iran-Iraq war. With enemy troops almost within sight and bombs falling everywhere, middle-aged villager Reza struggles to find a car battery that will allow him to race his pregnant wife to the hospital. Once there, she dies on the operating table due to complications, but only after giving birth to a little girl.

Reza, however, doesn’t know the fate of either, because in attempting to return to the village to rescue his parents, he drives straight into the fighting. His little daughter, meanwhile, is taken up by Shokuh, a woman surgeon from the hospital, who, in fleeingthrough the war zone a bit later, sees a burning corpse that she assumes is Reza’s.

When the story resumes nine years later, Reza has just been released after a long stint in an Iraqi POW camp. Tracking down Shokuh in a distant city, he finds that she has raised his daughter, Kimia, as her own, providing her an upbringing of affluence and safety. Understandably, the successful woman doctor , whose husband was killed in the war, is tremendously distraught at the prospect of losing the child. Fully aware of the hardships that claiming Kimia might cause his only offspring, Reza is no less torn.

Tale hinges on the dilemma of two sensitive, honorable adults trying to do the right thing in an emotionally charged situation where one party is bound to emerge hurt and dispossessed. While helmer Ahmad-Reza Darvish’s visual handling is at times a bit overheated, his scripting and work with a fine cast gives pic an intelligent, satisfying shape, adding up to a drama of commendable delicacy and conviction.

Kimia

(IRANIAN)

Production

A Pakhshiran Co. (Teheran) production. Directed, written by Ahmad-Reza Darvish.

Crew

Camera (color), Mahmud Kalari; editor, Abbas Ganjavi; music, Ahmad Pezhman; set design, Darvish; sound, Behruz Moavenian, Asghar Mirshekari; makeup. Abdollah Eskandari; special effects, Mohammad-Reza Sharafoddin. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (noncompeting), Aug. 28, 1995. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

With: Khosro Shakibai, Bita Farahi, Reza Kianian, Zahra Oveisa.
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