Nahid (2015)

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Winner of the Un Certain Regard: Promising Future (Prix de l’avenir) prize at Cannes Film Festival, 2015.

Nahid (Sareh Bayat) is a harried young divorcee living with her school-age son, Amir Reza (Milad Hossein Pour) in a small northern city of Iran on the Caspian Sea.

With barely a moment of respite, Nahid spends her days juggling finances, trying to make rent, working as a typist, keeping her truant son on the straight and narrow, fending off overtures from her repentant ex-husband, Ahmad (Navid Mohammad Zadeh) and quietly, furtively falling in love with a handsome widowed hotelier, Mas’ood (Pejman Bazeghi) who offers her a second chance at happiness. The terms of Nahid’s divorce make their union problematic. Ahmad has granted Nahid custody of their son, but on the proviso that she not remarry. Nahid and Mas’ood consider exploiting a loophole by way of temporary marriage known as sighe – a centuries-old Islamic law that allows a man and a woman to legally couple without changing their official marital status on their government-issued identity papers – but their plan creates its own set of complications.

Ida Panahandeh’s background in films for television and documentaries is evident in the craft, naturalism and emotional immediacy on display in her accomplished feature film debut. Scenes such as those between Nahid and her patient, devoted friend, Leila (Nasrin Babaei), offer rare moments of levity and solidarity for Nahid, who rails against societal constraints but doesn’t always manage to act in her own best interests.

Fans of Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation will recognise the luminous Sareh Bayat, who played the carer in Farhadi’s film.    

Screens in Farsi with English subtitles.