Keswick Film Club - Reviews - I Am Nasrine

Reviews - I Am Nasrine

I Am Nasrine

Reviewed By Chris Coombes

I Am Nasrine
I Am Nasrine
On Sunday night, Keswick Film Club one again delivered a thought provoking, valuable film experience. There was a bigger than usual audience for I am Nasrine, the first feature film by Iranian director Tina Gharavi. Gharavi is known for her documentary film making, and this gritty, often grim, uncomfortable film made us feel at times that we were watching a documentary about groups of people on the margins of British society - travellers, smuggled people, the bored and angry residents of a Newcastle housing estate that I felt I would be afraid to visit never mind live on.

Our two main characters, sister and brother Nasrine and Ali are made to come to Britain illegally, and begin a difficult adjustment to a society that forces them - and us - to confront what it means
to be an outsider, what it means to be different. Their lives are seemingly almost devoid of warmth and comfort; there is much about their everyday existence that is unbearably ordinary and colourless, but over time they begin to find places for themselves. Nasrine finds friendship and support with a family of travellers who effortlessly accept her for who she is. Ali finds work and companionship that helps him to question some of his strongly held beliefs about the place of women and about himself, as he comes to accept that he is gay.

We, in turn, are made to question our prejudices as we observe how Nasrine and Ali begin to settle into their new environment. There is a background of something sinister that culminates in the violent, senseless killing of Ali, but as a previously hostile neighbour cradles the dying man we are forced to question who the characters in the film really are, and to notice how kindness can be shown in the most unexpected ways.

Nasrine's whole life to date has been determined by men - the authorities in her native Tehran, her father, her brother; we watch her on the brink of being bullied by her new traveller boyfriend.

However, finally she finds a kind of freedom - reflected for us by some lovely images of wide seaside landscape. The travellers' and then her relationship with horses is used to good effect in the film. We watch and enjoy the animals' apparent freedom of movement, but we hear discussion of how they need to be 'broken' for their relationship with their owners to work. I am Nasrine is not a great film. Some of the acting is not particularly strong and at times it is difficult to follow the dialogue, but it is a brave and challenging film, supported by a soundtrack that firmly underscores the moods of the narrative. It made me ask questions, and I like to think that it helped me to understand a bit more about how our world works. This was a glimpse of parts of British society that I normally don't want to know about. I'm grateful that Tina Gharavi forced me to open my eyes - even if only for a short time.

In contrast, next Sunday's film promises to be a sumptuous offering from Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, apparently "a gorgeous movie, the film equivalent of a magnificent banquet composed of 78 sweet courses."

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19th Keswick Film Festival

22nd-25th February 2018


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Keswick Film Club has won the following British Federation of Film Societies awards:

Best Website 2008
Best Website 2007
Film Society of The Year 2006
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Best Programme 2001
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