Review: ‘Letters in the Wind’

The daily grind of conscripted soldiers undergoing basic training is a pretty universal theme, as this no-budget, fuzzily photographed, black-and-white Iranian pic vividly testifies. Pic is fascinating up to a point in its depiction of mostly illiterate young men thrown together in an atmosphere of harsh discipline and deprivation.

The daily grind of conscripted soldiers undergoing basic training is a pretty universal theme, as this no-budget, fuzzily photographed, black-and-white Iranian pic vividly testifies. Fascinating up to a point in its depiction of mostly illiterate young men thrown together in an atmosphere of harsh discipline and deprivation, the film has the feel of an indie film with the most rudimentary production values. Yet, as with so many Iranian films, a simple humanity gradually emerges. Despite its qualities, pic will be limited to fest unspoolings.

The conscripts are licked into shape in chilling, wintry conditions, while, in the barracks, they bitch about life and long to be in contact with their families. When one soldier gets to go on a brief furlough to Teheran, his buddies record messages for their families on a small tape recorder. A fish out of water in the city he’s never visited before, the messenger with some difficulty manages to call the families and play the messages over the phone. Then it’s back to barracks. It’s the simplest of concepts, but the film’s gentle humor and observational style outweigh its visual and technical limitations.

Letters in the Wind

Iran

Production

An Aftan Negaran production. (International sales: Aftan Negaran Prods., Teheran.) Produced, directed by Ali Reza Amini. Screenplay, Bayram Fazli.

Crew

Camera (B&W), Amini; editor, Behroz Kahali; music/production designer, Mohammad Reza Delpak. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discoveries), Sept. 11, 2002. Running time: 73 MIN.

With

Taghi Husshemi.
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