An aging poet is confronted by new technology and age-old family dynamics in the deftly executed father-and-son meller “Lonesome Trees.” Sensitively handled, this tender yarn by vet auteur Saeed Ebrahimifar (“Three Solutions for a Problem,” “Pomegranates and Cane”) picked up Best Film gong at Tehran’s Fajr Film Festival in February, but has yet to garner wider attention. Poignant central perf by Iranian stalwart Saeed Pursamimi (“Bride of Fire,” “The Last Act”) is resoundingly authentic. Simple but emotionally sophisticated pic will warm hearts around the fest circuit.
Iraj (Mahdi Ahmadi) is an Iranian emigre who’s returned from France to his home town of Kerman to visit his aging father, Roshan (Saeed Pursamimi), a part-time poet. Attempting to preserve unselfconscious images of his dad, Iraj spends much of his time ambushing the unsuspecting elder with a digicam. Though motivated by affection, Iraj’s candid-camera technique aggravates crotchety old Roshan, who feels his privacy is being invaded.
Roshan is also bothered by the shoddy treatment he receives from peers at his local poetry club, where rivalry and rhetoric often prevent poets from reciting their work.
Pic highlights the pivotal role poetry holds in both traditional and modern Iranian life; it also subtly hints that film, with its ability to capture unguarded beauty and behavior, could be the culture’s new poetry. However, while helmer Ebrahimifar is obviously conscious of the camera’s ability to create intimacy, he’s also aware of its effect as an emotional barrier.
Perfs exhibit a demure strength across the board. Ahmadi is solid as the reserved son who hides his affections behind a lens. But it’s the magnificent Pursamimi who provides the pic’s sublime centerpiece. Eloquent sequences where Roshan realizes (to his dismay) that he’s being observed perfectly depict sudden emotional transitions.
Helming is solid and unhurried. Repeated switches from 35mm to p.o.v. DV lensing have become a movie cliche, but here, the narrative justifies the technique.
Restrained but emotionally resonant pic is low-budget, but all tech credits are decidedly pro.