A well-made, engaging drama set among an Iranian family in Sweden, “Wings of Glass” is a realistic study of cultural identity in first- and second-generation immigrants that works on almost every level. This first feature by 35-year-old Reza Bagher, himself of Iranian descent, deserves major festival exposure and could work on foreign soil, given the universal nature of the story.
Main character is 18-year-old Nazil (Sara Sommerfeld), like elder sister Mahin (Aminah Al-Fakir) born in Sweden of Iranian parents. Since their mother died of cancer, their father, Abbas (Said Oveissi), has raised the girls by himself. Both want to assimilate into the culture of Sweden, while Abbas still has his roots in Iran.
Problems really begin when Abbas decides it’s time for his daughters to marry and arranges for them to meet two Iranian boys. Mahin is happy with her father’s choice, but Nazil objects to marrying Hamid (Rafael Edholm), her cousin. She agrees to work in his video-rental store, however, mainly to earn money to get the motorcycle license she dreams of.
In the vidstore, she meets 20-year-old Johan (Alexander Skarsgard, eldest son of actor Stellan Skarsgard), who has lived alone since his alcoholic mother committed suicide four years ago. They start seeing each other in the evenings, despite Abbas’ disapproval. When Nazil confides in her father that her cousin tried to rape her and he disbelieves her, she leaves home. Ultimately, it’s up to Johan to try to fix things between father and daughter.
Helmer Bagher clearly has a deep knowledge of the topics he’s dealing with. The family’s home scenes ring true, and, although his sympathies are clearly with the young heroine, he shows an understanding of the reasons for both Abbas and Hamid’s behavior.
Sommerfeld, 23, is a sensation as Nazil, a part that keeps her onscreen almost the whole time. Despite a good performance by Skarsgard, pic would have benefited from more background information on Johan, who is not much more than the final catalyst for Nazil’s flight to freedom. Other performances, mostly by unknown actors, are fine.
Transfer from DV to film is of more than acceptable quality. Though the town in which the story is set is unnamed, the location was Lulea in northern Sweden.