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I was too young while the events portrayed in the film were going on to truly experience them. So I view it at somewhat a disadvantage as history, but this isn't too bad -- a primary audience for this film should be teens, who clearly are in even worse of a situation than I.
It is not considered best to respond to comments, but I think I can voice my thoughts in answer to some of them. I too thought some of the supporting characters were badly played -- actually, what the film lacked were truly three dimensional non-Iranian characters. This is troubling. The potential b/f is portrayed as a bit of a boob and even the teacher isn't much help. The neighbors are a bit better, especially the wife in a couple scenes, but this is clearly a problem in the film.
I too felt that the film was sort of an extended Afternoon Special ... it shows my age that I remember them! All the same, it was a pretty good one with good acting by the leads, and some good situations. Given the paucity of good teenage drama in the theaters these days, Afternoon Specials actually look pretty good.
Let's remember this is the director's first film and a low budget one at that. This doesn't justify all of the films weaker components, but it helps understand them. Also, not only does the culture clash advance the plot, it very well might have been true that the family discussed how the cousin has different beliefs etc. Mary could very well have mostly ignored such "boring" discussions and the father might not have wanted to overdo it. Also, Ali's beliefs were rather new ... the father might have recalled him as more middle of the road.
As to historical accuracy. This is amusing -- the director based some of the film on his own experiences. I also don't know what was not historical accurate in the film. As to the lack of violence or truly harsh discrimination, the director in the commentary said he chose that route purposely so as not to make the film too harsh -- he wanted to focus on the emotions of the characters.
The lack of three dimensional non-Iranians aside, I thought it was a good film that showed a particular "growing up" moment for a teenage girl. The dad also impressed, a sort of everyman, that shows himself much more impressive than he first seems.
A good first effort ... with the expected flaws of a first film.
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