This 2000 Iranian film, like the recent Afghan Osama, follows the struggles of a young girl forced to impersonate a boy to support her family. First-time director Maryam Shahriar approximates Kiarostami’s long-take style but also relies on precise, horrific events to move the narrative forward. We meet Aman as her hair is shorn in a countryside village before she is sent alone through rough terrain to an exploitative apprentice job. Shahriar lingers over the toxic yarn-dyeing and numbing fingerwork of the rug trade, zooming in on bloodstains that earn one worker extra shop-master abuse. The filmmaker achieves the desired sense of remoteness and claustrophobic doom, and though the story could be told more economically, her slow approach conveys the distended chronology that attends an indentured servitude resembling slavery.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 20, 2004