Not Without My Daughter (1991) Poster

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Okay movie, disturbing comments
jash-110 October 2004
While I was re-watching bits of this movie a few weeks ago, I read the user comments here at IMDb and was very disturbed. Since it is still bothering me, I decided to write my own comments on the movie and on what has been said here.

First, the movie. It is about an international custody battle. That is a very real problem in this day and age. When couples from different countries break up they often each want the children to live with them and grow up in the country (and culture) in which they were raised. Each naturally thinks the way he or she was raised is better for their children.

This movie is Betty Mahmoody's story. And the culture clash is between the United States and Iran. It takes place in 1984. The Ayatollah Khomeini was still very much the leader Iran and the Iran-Iraq war had been going on for 4 years and would continue for another 4. Iran was quite isolated from much of the world at that time.

And 'Moody' Mahmoody, an Iranian-born doctor practicing in the U.S., brings his American wife, Betty, and their daughter, Mahtob, to Iran for a visit. When they arrive, Moody is dismayed at the changes in Iran, especially the breakdown of the education system and the resulting shortage of doctors. Then he becomes an ultra, ultra fundamentalist Muslim – so reactionary he makes suicide bombers look moderate. He demands that Betty dress and behave how he thinks a good Muslim wife should and wants their daughter to be raised to do the same. He becomes physically abusive to Betty. If she wants to return to America, it is fine with him, but Mahtob will remain with him in Iran. So Betty plans a dangerous escape for herself and her daughter.

Does the movie work? Somewhat. 'Women in peril' movies are always a guilty pleasure and Sally Field is a good actress. The biggest problem is with Moody's character. Alfred Molina is a wonderful actor, but it's hard to do much with a character that undergoes such a radical change in his basic character in a matter of weeks. I kept expecting to learn that he had once been diagnosed as psychotic or schizophrenic.

Is the movie unfair to the Iranian people? Again, somewhat. Virtually all the characters in the movie except Betty and Mahtob are Iranian. Some are good. Some are bad. But you can't have a 'woman in peril' with no peril. And that is provided by Moody and his family. But the people who help Betty escape are also Iranian. What unfairness there is lies not in maligning the Iranian people (it doesn't do that) but in implying (and sometimes saying explicitly) that the Iranian culture is inferior just because it is not westernized. As a free American woman I would not want to live in any fundamentalist society, regardless of which religion was in control. But post-revolution Iran is no more representative of thousands of years of Persian culture than Italy under Mussolini was representative of a land that produced the Roman Empire and Michelangelo.

Is the movie unfair to Moody? No, because this is BETTY's story. Talk to anyone in a bitter custody battle and they'll tell you all about why their ex is evil. And they wouldn't be lying. They are giving you their point of view. That doesn't mean Moody doesn't have a different point of view which is equally true and equally untrue (and which, I gather from the comments, was explored in another movie.) But 'Not Without My Daughter' doesn't pretend to be a sociological examination into the two sides of a dispute. Let me repeat for the third time, this is BETTY's story.

That brings me to why some of the comments disturb me so much. I would fully understand if some viewers thought the movie was silly or inaccurate or biased. But several writers have used their reviews as an excuse to joyfully bash the United States. My favorite was 'Who died and made Americans god to do movies about other countries??' That writer is from Sweden but doesn't seem to have a problem with Jan Troell making 'The New Land' (Nybyggarna) about America. And, were we to listen to her, we wouldn't have 'An American in Paris' or 'The Killing Fields' or 'Out of Africa' or 'Amadeus' (all of which are much better films than 'Not Without My Daughter.') But in the United States we have freedom of speech. That means that movie producers are free to make any movie to which they think they can sell tickets. And, as a member of the viewing public, when I disagree with what they are saying I have a very simple remedy. I don't buy a ticket.
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This Movie
LisaAsh200222 August 2004
I have seen this movie a few times and in my opinion, I enjoyed it and didn't find it racist at all. This is what happened to Betty and her story.

Is she saying that this is how ALL Iranians are? No, just what happened to her. The movie didn't give Iranians all a bad name because who were the people who helped her to escape from Iran? They were Iranians. It was not like every single person she met in Iran was rude to her. She is just talking about her husband's family and the way they treated her.

Also remember this happened in 1984, twenty years ago. For people to compare Iran now to the Iran in the movie, it's totally different. The country has changed in the pass 20 years.

I fully enjoyed this movie and admire the real Betty's courage. As a mother myself, I totally understand her not wanting to leave without her daughter. I would fight to the ends of the world for my child and that is what Betty did for her child as well.
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10/10
I Should Like to Know Where "Some People" are Getting Their Information...
ScottAmundsen5 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The story told in NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER is a straightforward tale of an abusive man who traps his wife and daughter in a place from which there is no escape unless the wife agrees to go home by herself. Which naturally she refuses to do.

I read the book; there was nothing in it to make me doubt Betty Mahmoody's story one iota. Those of you who are screaming "bigotry, racism, and lies" would do well to look inside your own hearts because I suspect there's plenty of duplicity in there.

Sally Field delivers her usual powerhouse performance as the mother and Alfred Molina is surprisingly sympathetic as her husband. He's abusive, yes, but he is also a man caught between two completely different value systems and in the end one can't help but empathize with his inability to reconcile his love for his wife and daughter (read the book; there was plenty of love there in the beginning) and the loyalty he cannot help but feel towards his family in Tehran.

"People! Take your meds!" ~ Judge Elizabeth Donnelly (Judith Light), "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit;" episode titled "Zebras."
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9/10
Powerful And Disturbing
sddavis6321 February 2011
The story of Betty Mahmoody is a truly frightening one. The book she wrote and this movie based on it are controversial (many see it as little more than a racist slam against Iranian culture) but to me this movie came across as both believable and balanced. There's no doubt that life in Iran isn't presented as paradise, but the story really isn't about life in Iran; it's about one woman's experience of being forced to remain in Iran against her will after she and her daughter accompany her Iranian born doctor husband back to his homeland to visit his family, and about her subsequent efforts to escape Iran with her daughter. It also does a great job of depicting the almost complete lack of rights and freedoms women possess in Iran - having a status as little more than property to their husbands, and subject to their complete control.

Sally Field was excellent in the role of Betty and Alfred Molina was also disturbingly believable as "Moody" - her husband. As the story opens, the family are living a comfortable life in Michigan and Moody is a completely Americanized doctor working in a local hospital - a loving husband and father. Against her better judgement, Betty agrees to visit his family in Iran - a family more radically Islamic than Moody who from the moment they arrive begin to pressure him to stay and adopt their ways. Molina did a good job of showing the gradual changes in Moody's character and as he becomes more and more abusive and controlling toward Betty. Field superbly portrays Betty's growing desperation and her feelings of helplessness (and hopelessness) as every opportunity for her to escape with her daughter seems to close. Finally, with the help of some sympathetic Iranians, Betty and daughter Mahtoub make a mad escape attempt toward Turkey.

Whether all aspects of Iranian life and culture are accurately portrayed here seems somewhat beside the point to me. This isn't, after all, a documentary about life in Iran. This is Betty's own story as she experienced it and remembered it - and it's a story that makes the viewer ache for her as she tries to figure out a way to escape this nightmare she's caught up in. I found her story completely believable and brilliantly portrayed.
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What's all the fuss about!!!!!
res07lla1 December 2002
I saw this movie quite some time ago and enjoyed it. It did not leave me with a negative image of Iranians, Islam or Persia at all. I saw it as a simple story of mother trying to do what was best for her daughter. Not wanting ones daughter to be a second class citizen in my own opinion does not warrant the hostility I have seen portrayed in the previous comments. Sally Fields performance was certainly good. The movie told the story from the wifes/mothers point of view. I found that the movie showed just cause why the husband would become disenchanted with the USA. I can completely understand why he would like to return to his home. After all there is no place like home. My sympathy however with the husband left me when I saw the deception he displayed keeping his American family in Iran. This movie, though flawed was well worth viewing.
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other boards where they stick up for the worm husband
sydney194818 December 2006
I have seen other comments that tell "his" side of the story. He was a cruel man and basically held her hostage by not letting her leave without her daughter. He was a worm and a bully. Hurray for Betty and the bravery of her escape. I would have loved to see his face when he found out she made it back. He under estimated her--that stupid fool. He forgot that American women don't like to be bossed around. I hope he never got to see or talk to his daughter again. He doesn't deserve it. And don't believe any propaganda they try and sell you about how her poor husband got the dirty end of the stick. He pulled an underhanded sneak attack on her and didn't have the "you know what" to tell her his plans. Good for you Betty--and as for that creep and all creeps like him in Iran--good riddance. And don't buy it for a minute that Betty was lying. She wasn't. I have heard the same from other women in the same boat. She spoke the truth about everything and it is much worse than she even described.
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8/10
This is a great movie. Sally Field really shows her chops as an actress.
bpoind22 December 2016
This is an 8+ star movie in my opinion. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out why the movie's been shouted down to 6.2 on IMDb. All I can say is, if the embarrassing shoe fits your backward culture, wear it.

OK, I'm supposed to fill up space, according to IMDb, so here goes.

An Iranian-American physician, living in Michigan, decides to move himself, his wife, and his daughter back to Iran, without cluing his family in to his intentions. Once in Iran, the man can't find a job, becomes completely unhinged, and refuses to let his wife and daughter return to America.

Some examples of familial warmth: the doctor doesn't allow his wife to use the telephone in her own house, enlists friends and family members to spy on her, and repeatedly beats her and threatens her with death if she tries to leave Iran with his daughter. It's like 'Father Knows Best', but with a lot more emphasis on paranoia and revenge.

Throw in scenes of daily life in Iran, and you come away with the following lesson: People who want normal lives, particularly for their wives and daughters, shouldn't move to a Moslem country.

I found 'Not Without My Daughter' compelling from start to finish. If you're used to thinking of Sally Field as Forrest Gump's Mom, this will definitely help you get over that. Sally's great.
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10/10
Good movie. Some quick comments about Farsi vs. Arabic.
moviefani24 October 2005
Many people on here have said that they were not speaking Farsi in this movie. Actually they were. Most of the actors were Israelis of Persian origin. Most of the dialogue in this movie was in Farsi, not in Arabic contrary to the claims made by many who have posted here. Even the non native speakers like Alfred Molina, etc muttered lines in Farsi, not in Arabic. In fact all throughout the movie you could see banners of Farsi hanging over the streets of Tehran, and graffiti saying "Marg Bar Amreekaa." This means "Death to America" in Farsi. None of this was Arabic.

How do you say "Death to America" in Arabic? "Al Mout Li Amreeka"....this line was not once uttered throughout the entire movie. And it never appeared on a single banner or graffiti message.

There was Farsi throughout the entire movie. Just for starters basic words or phrases like "Khoda Hafez" "Salaam", "Ashpazkhaneh" etc. etc.

Farsi is a very distinct language from Arabic. Very recognizable. Even if you didn't speak farsi you could easily distinguish it by ear from Arabic. Arabic is extremely loud and guttural. In contrast Farsi is much softer. The accents of these two separate languages are entirely different.

So to the many people who said they didn't speak Farsi in this movie, you are wrong. Its been a while since I have seen it, but as far as I can remember, the only Arabic used was in prayers over the loud speakers. And when the family was performing morning prayers, they did speak Arabic, but it was ironically even in Persian accent. But this is normal. Iranians always pray in Arabic, the language of the Holy Quran. The movie was absolutely right about this.

This movie was filled with Persian culture. Even the names of the foods were Persian, not Arabic.

And remember some of the names of the characters? Ameh Bozorg, Baba Hajji, Miss Alavi, Khanum Shaheen, Aga Hakim...etc. etc.

These are literally Persian names and titles. Very authentic.

So I am really clueless as to what people are talking about when they said they only spoke Arabic in this film. Clearly not true.

A note on Persian culture and language. There is no denying that Farsi is extremely arabized Persian. Farsi belongs to the Indo European language family but has thousands of Arabic loan words. Even the name "Farsi" itself is arabized. Its actually "Parsi" but the Arabs have no "P" sound, so its always been known as "Farsi".

So although Iranian culture and the Farsi language is quite distinct from Arab culture and is Persian in origin, there is no doubt that it is at least somewhat influenced by Arabic ways. Why do you think Farsi is written with the Arabic alphabet? Why is the main religion of Iran Islam? Obviously because of the impact Arabic expansion and culture had on Persia so many centuries ago.

Throughout the movie you also saw posters of Khamenei and Khomenei. Two Iranian totalitarian clerics. These men are not Arabs they are Persian.

There were so many references to Persian in this movie. Moody even said to Mahtob (another Persian name)...."You know, I was born in Persia."

So when people accuse the producers of this film of being ignorant about Iranian culture and Farsi language, you are quite mistaken. They did a very good job, especially with filming this in Israel. They could have easily botched this movie, but for the most part they didn't.

Also, some on here have said this movie is "racist." I beg to differ. This movie is based on a true story. The book is even more graphic. This movie actually sugar coated a lot of things.

And how could one be "racist" against Iranians? Since when has there been an "Iranian race" or a "middle eastern race"? Thats like saying there is an "American race" or "North American race" or something. It doesn't make sense.

But anyway, this is a great movie. Very informative about the current oppressive regime in Iran. The Shah was bad, and unfortunately America supported him. But the current Islamic theocracy is far worse. They hang little girls from cranes in public.
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10/10
Controversial, Harrowing, Powerful, Edge-of-your-seat, True-Life Story
IanPhillips6 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Adapted from the book of the same name by Betty Mahmoody, the film was directed by Brian Gilbert, screenplay written by David W. Rintels, and filming locations ranged from Ankara, Turkey, Neve Ilan, Israel, and in Atlanta, Georgia. It's a thoroughly well-acted, very absorbing drama, shrewdly evoking the central character's escalating nightmare as she comes to terms with being held hostage by her husband and being totally powerless to do anything about it.

What alarms me more than anything is that, despite a number of reviews praising the film, one reviewer stated "Sally Field displays a lot of over-heated anguish". Is that person for real? I think the viewer is sympathetic to her ploy, as she was fooled into visiting Iran, and then was forced to conform to their culture, which is very primitive when it comes to women. Field has many scenes where she is able to show off her acting abilities and her performance never once shrinks, delivering a powerful turn, as does Alfred Molina in the less-sympathetic role.

There is a beautiful performance from a very young and gifted Sheila Rosenthal as their young daughter, Mahtob, and displays acting abilities that are incredible for her age. Inevitably, this situation she and her mother find themselves in, affects her the most being just a six-year-old girl.

I won't reveal the ending, but I can certainly say it is intense, very edgy, nail-biting stuff, which makes you incredibly nervous, and it's very well-drawn out.

Unfortunately, the film ended up being largely criticised by Iranians, who saw it as another attempt by America to shame their culture. Many critics stated it had a hidden agenda. This is simply not true. The real-life Betty Mahmoody acted as a consultant on the film, to ensure accuracy, and it is made more than clear that she saw Islam as having great beauty in it; it was just the excessively oppressive system to women she could not adapt to. Some accused this of showing all Muslims as monsters. Now, I can see why this film could be used as racist propaganda, but, I also didn't see it this way. It was telling a true story, no more, no less. For instance, without giving too much away, it is actually a group of Muslims that aid Betty in her daring escape plan; the same penalty would be handed out to these Muslims if they were caught helping her - death! Some of the Muslims in the film are shown to be warm and very gracious, so I don't believe there was any hidden agenda here. If there WAS then all I can say is wherever the eyes of the filmmakers may have been, the heart of its stars were definitely in the right place.

I also find it hard to believe that despite the harrowing tone of the film, those same critics that were mocking it stated that it is no more than an over-sensationlised, Lifetime-type TV movie; grossly inaccurate. This is far from some glossy, shallow melodrama. Yet, those with a rather closed-mind may view this as the be-all and end-all to life in Iran, which I don't believe it sets out to do.

The incidental music accompanying many of the scenes was also criticised by some, though I personally felt it helped create the intended atmosphere and tone, as well as enhance the edge of the story.

Ian Phillips
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7/10
Good Film
pahaake24 April 2009
I'm sorry that some people feel that a true story is some sort of Iran bashing. I'm also sorry that so many middle eastern countries are primitive and have little respect for women or their right to equality.

Sally Field did a great job in this movie, and yes since it's a true story - it actually happened - how about that? Yes it made me hate Moody and his family - and why not it portrayed their evil. And evil is exactly what they were so the movie did exactly what it should have. I think this movie is another great insight as to what goes on in the middle east and certainly doesn't deserve any of the criticism found in these forums.
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10/10
Not without my daughter
BlakeRsanchez8317 March 2019
This is a Great movie a powerful one. A lot of People are saying that this never happend. I have seen a lot of interviews with Betty and i do believe her. You all should see the interviews she clearly says you cannot blame all Iranians not everyone is like this. But this family was like that, please do some research before you write a comments the movie is not about iranians or muslims its simplely about this family I have no hate for muslims a lot of them are good People like the rest of the world.
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8/10
Scary but true story of a woman and child trapped in a foreign country by an abusive husband.
asfouras2 July 2000
At first I had reservations about this film until I lived in a country similar to Iran.

The fact is that no one can comprehend the differences in culture and religion until they have lived it.

Women of any nation or religion suffer from abusive relationships but as laws go in many Muslim countries, problems arise when a foreign national woman wants to leave with her children because the children are seen as belonging to the husband's family.

I did find fault with the film however, because they seemed to show alot of ugliness in the land and of the people. I find this often in films critical of Arab, Iranian, or Muslim countries. Its as if the producers look for the worst looking actors and locations they can find to make the viewers think that all the people and places in those countries are like that.

Overall I liked this film and found it true and correct. Sally Field is a great actress and played the part of Betty Mahmoody well.
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Amazing!
WritnGuy-227 January 2000
This was on the Bravo Channel one night. The commercial looked quite appealing, and I figured I'd check it out. Mind you, my cup of tea is horror (check my review list) but I'm open to anything.

And boy, was I surprised.

First, I'll start with the plot. Betty, an American, and her husband Moody, an Iranian, live with their daughter Mahtob in America. One day, Moody overhears two fellow doctors at the hospital he works out making racial comments about him. He quits, and proposes to Betty that they take Mahtob and go to Iran for a two-week vacation. Hesitant and scared, Betty agrees.

And that's only the beginning. The life in Iran is harsh and Betty is constantly forced to be wary of her surroundings. But the real nightmare begins when she realizes that Moody doesn't want to go back to America, and she herself is trapped in Iran, and has to save herself and her daughter.

This movie is enthralling. Sally Field plays the role perfectly, and her character is someone you can't help but identify with. The helplessness of her situation is overwhelming, but to watch her struggle for an escape from her abusive husband (abusive in anger because she is trying to leave) and the rough conditions of a foreign country is even more overwhelming. Some of the scenes are amazing. When Betty's nightmare first begins, and she's begging for help from Moody's family, and they're all yelling at her in Iranian as she screams, "God Damn you all!" to them is one of the most intense of the whole film. And the ending is great. Not what you would expect. Well, it's not like something shocking, it's just subtle. But it will definitely give you so much pride to be an American, and you'll feel some comfort in being in this free country. All in all, I definitely recommend this movie. For anyone. You will be amazed. I was.
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10/10
Racism?
triplesee202027 February 2005
I was shocked to find that many people did not enjoy this movie. In my opinion, this movie was very thought provoking and poignant, to say the least. How could this movie be racist if it speaks the truth? Remember, this is obviously just a movie. It was designed for entertainment purposes. It shows how an American woman and her daughter live through a traumatic experience.

Overall, the movie was very well polished. I agree the point of which the husband seemed to change drastically in a very quick time from a loving man to a cold-hearted brute, but the movie cannot show details as well as actually experiencing them can. If instead people would 'watch' this movie rather than search for every flaw within it, then they too would realize that it indeed is a work of art.

Not Without My Daughter was beautifully filmed and the music of Jerry Goldsmith throughout it is a masterpiece. I recommend this movie to those who have a heart and can accept the movie for what it is – an expressive, emotional true story.
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ITS A MOVIE ??? RELAX WITH ALL THE SERIOUS COMMENTS.
ultimixxjams21 July 2003
Its only a movie!!! Relax with all the serious comments about the movie trying to put down Iranians. Personally I thought this movie was a great drama. Living in Iran is nothing like living in the USA. Imagine being used to all the freedoms you enjoy in the US and suddenly find yourself in Iran.

Here you are in Iran. Strange place, strange people, restricted freedoms. Okay I can handle this for a few days I guess. Then you are told we are never going back home. Woe!!!!!!!!! Talk about a sudden feeling of fear and anger. Sally did a great job of putting you in the driver seat, right with her. All I could do was root for her to get her daughter and get the hell out of that place.

As for the comments about the mother being selfish and not respecting his wishes. She agreed to go visit his family, and he lies to her tricking her into staying.

I agree this would have been a good Lifetime drama, but not a bad movie at all. I give it an 8 out of 10.
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10/10
A Mother's Fight to Save Her Daughter
jbsreading12 July 2018
I love this movie because it's about a brave mother risking her life to save her daughter. Where it takes place and who the foes are is secondary to me. Just as "The Handmaid's Tale" shows the dangers of a fundamentalist Old Testament Christian society where women have no rights, "Not Without My Daughter" tells of a similar society that happened to actually exist in Iran when this real life story took place. Imagine leaving your comfortable rights-filled home and being thrust into a country where your gender has zero rights, and to boot, you don't know the language and are totally unfamiliar with the culture or language, or religion. Oh, and you and your daughter are prisoners. This is Betty's own, personal, terrifying story. She encountered people who were hostile and seemed scary, or who were at least afraid to communicate with or help her. She was in a small, foreign environment. Hopefully people are intelligent enough not to make assumptions about an entire country of people but we also shouldn't ask a survivor to alter her terrorizing experience because we find it offensive. It IS scary that women and girls had no rights in Iran and that were prisoners. Of course, Americans in this situation would experience this very, very differently than those girls born there into loving families or who visited at a kinder and gentler time in Iran's history. Let's honor this heroic woman and her daughter, their story, while understanding that someone else could have an entirely different story and perspective coming out of Iran or any other Muslim country.
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A film that all non-Arabs need to see.
TxMike5 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I don't understand the rather low ratings of this film, although it drags quite a bit in the middle, it is a gripping true story, well scripted and well acted. Alfred Molina as the Iranian husband and Sally Field as the American wife are perfectly cast and each does a great job in their respective roles. I give it "8" of 10.

First, we need to accept that part of the reason this film was made, and part of why it drags a bit in the middle, was the producers' desire to expose the mistreatment of women in certain Arab countries. This one was set in Iran, but presumably thousands of American women married to men in these countries are virtually imprisoned, not allowed basic freedoms, including the freedom to return to the USA. Or perhaps other "western" countries. I was in one of the Arab countries for a week in 1991 and what is depicted in this film is very accurate.

The story - SPOILERS FOLLOW - it is 1984 and Betty is happily married to an Iranian-born doctor, and they have a 5-year-old daughter. We see them as a typical well-off American family, fishing in the lake in Michigan (filmed in Georgia) and having a family outing with the in-laws. At the hospital fellow doctors are making uncomplimentary remarks about Iranian doctors, and kids at school to the daughter. Plus, his large extended family back in Iran (formerly Prussia) are putting pressure on him to return. Betty is afraid to go for a short visit, but her husband swears on the Koran that he will see that they remain safe, and they will return home in the US after a two-week visit.

When they arrive in Iran, the large family celebration looks more like a grand homecoming, which is what it was. After two weeks he told Betty they weren't going back, in Iran she is his property and she has no independent rights. When she argued, he hit her in the face with his fist. At one point, when her father was ill back in the states, and she wanted to travel to visit him, she would not be allowed to bring her daughter. She said, "Not without my daughter" will I leave, thus the title.

Betty and her daughter were there for almost two years before they finally escaped, taking a dangerous route across one border, risking their lives for freedom. She had spent most of that two-year period constantly trying to find a way to escape. Angered by her attempts at one point he told her, "Try this again and I will kill you." That coming from her husband with whom she lived such a normal life just months earlier. All in the name of his religious beliefs.

The DVD is relatively sharp, but not "reference" quality. There is only one short "extra" of note, and it is a "making of" which also includes some comments from the real Betty. Good film, still can't figure out why it has a relatively low IMDb rating.
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8/10
So what did you expect?
n-mo25 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This film has received a great deal of flak for its treatment of Dr. Mahamoody, of Iran and indeed, of Islam itself. Yet it must be acknowledged that this is the reality of life in Iran as well as other countries operating under strict Islamic law (c.f. Saudi Arabia): women cannot so much as board a plane or check into a hotel without their husbands' permission, children are in the custody of the father and the family will do as he says.

The postmodernist is occasionally willing to admit this, but quick to point out all of the supposed past and present faults of Christian and Occidental civilisation. To this end, the filmmakers (I am not familiar with the book) have done an excellent job avoiding either explicit Christian traditionalism or liberal feminism in depicting Betty's struggle. It could well be read as Christianity versus Islam: notice the large crucifix conspicuously dangling from her neck, and the implication that Betty would never truly consider converting; it is also implied that Betty has raised her daughter a Christian and resists any notion of conversion. On the other hand, it could be read as modernism and feminism versus fundamentalist religion: Betty is shocked that she cannot simply come and go as she pleases, and with her child. (I lean toward the former interpretation, though my reasons for thinking so would take up too much space.)

Further, the people who helped Betty escape Iran included Iranians. It is true that these Iranians were depicted as sincere Amerophiles, but let us ask, honestly: what other type of Iranian would help an American escape from her Iranian husband? Moreover, the movie depicts the local Iranian women as genuinely wishing to help Betty adjust: this could well be read as an acknowledgement that the mentality in Iran is quite different than Betty's or any Occidental's.

True, the film is centered around Betty and any value judgments would tend to lean toward her side, but in my mind this is a film that cleverly avoids explicit value judgments and tends toward the problem of culture clash. Whatever one thinks about religion or cultural relativism, the fact is that people ARE different, however many similarities one may find, and this has practical consequences. Moreover, the depiction of Moody as swinging from moderate to radical is based on Betty's real memories and should not be discounted. This is one woman's story; the reader is invited to draw his own conclusion.
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Regarding statements of the invalidity of this film...
faerie_number326 February 2010
This movie may not win in terms of geographical accuracy or cinematography. However, the woman depicted in the movie is based on the real Betty and she is the writer of the screenplay.

I know many things about many different countries, which seems to be odd for an American. I have read many books about Islam, and ultimately I think that it is most often a religion associated with violence, especially against women. I understand that there are many modern, peaceful people who practice Islam, and I am of the opinion that they have adapted an ancient, oppressive creed to their modern progressive values in order to reclaim it for peace.

To anyone who thinks the husband is irrational, or unrealistic, understand that this movie is based on ACTUAL events, not fiction. I know as a woman, that there is no way I could ever safely travel through Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and many other places regardless of it being 2010. I feel it is sick and sad that these women are covered because the men in those places have not learned to control themselves.

I interact with many international students within my TESL program, and the only people who prefer to not speak with me or acknowledge my statements in a classroom have been Muslim men.

Culture is one thing, and trying to kill Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a dutch parliament member originally from Somalia, for making a film about exactly which parts of the Qur'an oppress women is another. Sadly, Islamic extremists did manage to kill her director, Theo Van Gogh, while he was bicycling in Amsterdam (not an Islamic country). I am proud of France for standing up for equality and banning womens' head scarfs in Governmental buildings because they represent the inequality of men and women which goes against their republic.

I just wish I could convince my public college to stop building prayer rooms and foot washing facilities for Muslim students using student fees. No religion should be getting state money for any educational facilities, and yet in Minnesota there is a charter school next to a mosque that is suing the state for not handing over funds because they violate state law regarding religion in schools (google Muslim school in MN gets state funding). They, of course, are not the only religion trying to get into schools. Many Christians would like to see their religion in schools again as well.

I have been following stories of Islamic oppression of women for many years with my mother. While I understand that there are MANY, NON-VIOLENT, MODERN Muslim people, there are still many cases of abuse against women and children by Islamic men across the world. There have also been many cases of Islamic extremists destroying artistic works, literatures, and other cultural artifacts that are not of their culture. This is fundamentally wrong in my opinion, as it was for death metal groups to burn down 13th century Christian churches in Sweden, (google Swedish church fire). These types of art and structures hold value to ALL MANKIND not just the people that made them. This is human history being destroyed!

I myself am of the opinion that MOST major organized religions oppress women, especially Catholicism, Lutheranism and various sects of Christianity in America. Buddhism didn't allow women to practice for a long time. I do believe that Islam may be the most oppressive religion to women overall.

In light of more recent works like Persepolis, this movie is not unrealistic, despite being tacky and poorly filmed. In Persepolis, the parents are very liberal and modern. The writer of those graphic novels lives in France despite having very liberal parents, and that says everything.
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10/10
It a TRUE story, these things really happen!!!
betina_mbk6 March 2005
I'm not just another dumb, naive blond saying this. I've seen several documentaries about the movie, and about other cases where the same thing has happened! You have to open your eyes to the fact that bad things actually happen, and this is one of the really horrible things! Even though it may seem racist its not really, because it's a fact that this happens. Sometimes the mother isn't even brought with to the county the father goes to, he just kidnaps the children. But of course we can't judge all Islamic people on this, it's not about creating a stereotype, we have enough of them already! We just need to be aware of the fact that it's not a fictional story!

So if you haven't watched it yet, go rent it! You won't be sorry, I promise!!
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Worth Seeing
barborr11 January 2004
This movie demonstrated what extremes people will go to when they feel trapped. The Iranian husband wasn't happy in the U.S. and wanted to have his wife & daughter with him in Iran. He either lied to her when he promised her that they would only be in Iran for a two week visit, or changed his mind once he got back home & found himself much happier or strongly influenced by his relatives & homeland. When the wife, Betty, found out that she couldn't leave to return to the U.S. she was desperate to find a way for her & her daughter to get back to the U.S. Most movies I forget quickly. This one, however, sticks with me as a terrifying look at what it would be like to find yourself totally trapped in a situation beyond your control.
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8/10
one sided,but undeniably powerful!
flicklover27 October 2001
This movie does everything possible to ilicit a reaction to the horror that betty mahmoody went through. Sally Field plays Betty Mahmoody, an american woman that married an Iranian in the US, only to go back to Iran being told by him that it would be a vacation, he decided to stay in Iran and virtualy had her as prisoner because she didn't want to stay. This movie has been criticized for being one sided, showing muslims, especially men as violent wife beaters. Though I agree that the film does do that, the film is told from her point of view, and is not meant to be a documentary. The husband is Moody is played by Alfred Molina, his performance is good, the script does allow him to be 3 dimensional, there are moments when his facial expressions transmit that he knows that what he is doing to his wife is wrong. The movie might have been better if they would have focused more on his feelings, but it is hard to sympathize with him, from the beginning he had mislead his wife, later beating her often. Is it a great film,no, but its performances are good and it inspires thought. This movie works on the level of a personal story, politicaly, it can be said that it is just pro US propaganda. But Betty's story is harrowing nonetheless
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8/10
Good film, great acting..!!
shekhawat-inc19 December 2012
Two kinds of people have reviewed the film: one, Americans, who for the fear of being tagged racists voiced their anger over some issues. and two, native iranians, who obviously were hurt for being shown as near monsters. i being a right minded 3rd person saw the movie with an empty mind and found it to be a hardhitting, well crafted movie. i don't know whether the facts are "embellished" as some claim. i don't know if there was any kind of exaggeration or generalisation and i have no means to be sure. but what i saw was an example of brilliant cinema. sally field was flawless. and so were other actors. it hurts me to see the negative response to the movie which i believe is because of the reservations in peoples mind. the screenplay i believe was great too. AND I AS A REASONABLE PERSON COULD BELIEVE IT TO BE TRUE...about that one family, not about the whole country. even the film never showed all iranians as bad. even the husband was not all satanic all the time. i have nothing against them. but i know of occurrence of such incidents. in fact a similar film "khuda ke liye" was made in Pakistan and it was hailed as a great movie. in my country too these things happen in the more conservative societies-exactly the same way. it was a good movie if we look at it objectively is all i wanna say.
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10/10
I enjoyed it!
benny-june25 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I thought the movie was awesome! So many people marry into other nationalities and races not knowing of any of the history before doing so. I think if it wasn't for her tragedy there will be people husbands, wives and sister, brothers, etc... that have no idea of foreign laws and what they consist of. I think for the people who don't have an open mind and who are ignorant and no nothing at all about other countries or laws should not see the movie. Though the movie is just a quick version of what really took place. I believe the movie came to the plot/point very quickly. I would love to read the book to catch the details that the movie left out. I know she had to have done more investigation and had the desire to learn the language to get around. I know that English wasn't used in that Country as much as in the movie. I do wish also it had subtitles.
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7/10
Not Propaganda
laura-mckeever6 February 2009
If I were to review the book, I would give a clear 10/10 as the content shows Betty Mahmoodys lack of bias and gives more of an idea as to how the Muslim religion is etc.

I would lie to begin by saying that like others I am disturbed by these film reviews. It does not portray ALL Iranians to be violent and inhospitable, it portrays Moody in this light and his family.

Those of you who believe Betty Mahmoody is a liar, racist, prejudiced or all of the above need to take the time to move away from your TV screens and read her books 'Not Without My Daughter' and 'For The Love Of A Child'.

In 'Not Without My Daughter' she expresses gratitude to the Iranian people and speaks of the oppression that reaches Iranian women. She only seeks to highlight her treatment at the hands of Moody and his family. She finds solace in the Muslim religion and respects it.

In 'For The Love Of A Child' Betty explores how this story is familiar to couples of all cultures. Such stories feature a South African woman taking her children from her Libyan husband, a German woman kidnapping her American husbands daughter, Algerians taking French children...Betty does not seek to paint the Middle East in a bad light and this can be seen in the way she explores what she clearly sees as a world wide issue of parents being 'left behind'. This book also shows how she counsels Mathob in remembering her Persian roots and not holding her father in contempt. At many points she tells Mahtob that it is okay to still love her father and remains within their Iranian, Pakistani and Iraqi social circles in America. She also highlights how the climate between America and Iran created bias around the film and how she personally along with Sally Fields attempted to illustrate that the Iranians were kind.

I know it has been mentioned that the Iraniabs are more hospitable than Americans. At the time of Mathob and Bettys plight that was most likely not the case. You must bear in mind that Betty simply couldn't fabricate this story, that is why we have laws against libel in most corners of the world. If the details of this film were untrue why has Dr Moody not successfully sued Betty? In addition to this friends of Dr Moody who were based in Tehran at the time of the story occurring confirmed the details. What reason would they have to lie? I think when watching a film like this its important to bear in mind that your bias' will come in to play and that seeking the facts is a better route to take than ranting like a maniac.
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