Cinema Consults: Children of Heaven

Physician's Money Digest, August 2007, Volume 14, Issue 8

There is nothing better than getting a movie recommendation that lives up to its glowing praise. Several months ago I received an e-mail from a Physician's Money Digest reader urging me to see and review Children of Heaven. I brought home the movie and truly didn't know what to expect. It is an Iranian film, so I braced myself for something that would either challenge my view of the world or leave me saddened by a culture clash. What I did not expect was a delightful, heart-warming story that made me smile and well up with tears at the same time.

The plot is whimsically simple. A boy named Ali (Amir Farrokh Hashemian) accidentally loses his sister Zahra's (Bahare Seddiqi) only pair of shoes, and not wanting to upset their financially strained parents, they decide to share a pair of his worn sneakers. In this basic storyline lies a world of struggle, hope, caring, and triumph.

Director and writer Majid Majidi has given moviegoers a tremendous gift in this film. The young actors, who successfully pull off some weighty performances, are no doubt helped by his direction. Although the film tugs constantly at the heartstrings, it never strains its grip, carefully avoiding, for the most part, the syrupy sentimentality that movies of this genre are constantly guilty of.

With all of the turmoil in this world, there are certain cultures that seem more alien and more foreign to us than others. I would dare say that Iran falls under this category. It is for this reason that I hope this movie gains an even wider audience—even though it has enjoyed quite a bit of notoriety as a result of its Oscar nomination and various other film awards and accolades. After watching this movie, Iran doesn't seem so distant. The story of these two children and their small, but nonetheless daunting, life's struggle crosses cultural barriers reminding us that kindness and family know no country. Lisa A. Tomaszewski, editor of Physician’s Money Digest, has recently completed her PhD in literature at Drew University in New Jersey. She is an avid fan of film and has taught a summer film course at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She welcomes questions, comments, or suggestions for future film reviews at 609-524-9569 or ltomaszewski@ascendmedia.com.