The universality of a child’s loneliness wins the game in “The Play,” a deceptively simple Iranian kidpic by writer-director Gholamreza Ramezani. With a contempo urban setting and a readily understood theme, this film is likely to have broader appeal than “Hayat,” Ramezani’s more traditional Iranian pic that kicked off this year’s Berlinale Kinderfest. Events with kiddy sidebars will certainly come out to “Play,” and pubcasters with a children’s entertainment quota should also consider it.
Soraya (Melika Emami) gets bored entertaining herself with dolls in the rear courtyard of her parents’ house while her mother (Mahnaz Afzali) works in the living room. When she hears the voices of two children next door, Soraya pleads to be introduced to the family but her mom steadfastly refuses, claiming she has no way of ascertaining their social status. However, things change when the neighbors’ ball inadvertently comes into Soraya’s possession. Ramezani’s helming is as simple as his story. Perfs are adequate, although the diminutive Emami shows some of the limitations of a 6-year-old thesp as she is allowed to whine too much. A better Anglo title would be just “Play.”