An offbeat road movie about an American youth’s cultural discomfort as he searches for his Iranian roots, “Strangers” closely mirrors the real-life story of young director-producer-thesp Ramin Bahrani, a Columbia U. film theory grad of Iranian descent who was unacquainted with the fatherland before shooting this picture. Though far from the tradition of contempo Iranian cinema, film should feel familiar to Western auds; they may, however, be turned off by its predictable scripting, deadpan acting and American indie simplicity. Some fest dates loom for this mostly Farsi-lingo pic.
In his Barnard tee, camera swinging from his shoulder, Kaveh Dalaki (Bahrani) hitches a ride with a quiet, worry-ridden truck driver, Abdul Reza (Karim Kashani), along the winding roads of southern Iran. In village after village they look for traces of Kaveh’s paternal family; eventually they learn his noble grandfather was murdered, which sparks an unconvincing thirst for revenge. Protag’s total lack of sensitivity and Ugly American habit of trying to buy his way through the country give pic a weak linchpin for a thin storyline. Landscapes around Shiraz make spectacular visuals.