I had the pleasure of attending a screening of Gholam at the Diaspora film festival in Toronto as a volunteer. walking into the theatre I had no idea what the film was about and I'd also never seen an Iranian film before. I'm pleased to say that Gholam was a very good film.
firstly the cinematography, lighting, etc. was all very slick and looked quite nice. visually, Gholam was in no way a let down. the entire cast gives us good performances here as well.
The film tells the story of Gholam, an Iranian immigrant who lives in London. he works at an old car garage and as a taxi driver. His mother constantly calls him from Iran in an attempt to convince him to come back home. he's also approached by some mysterious men supposedly from his past involvement in the military. the biggest issue for Gholam is his inner struggle. will he decide to go back to his homeland or will he continue his difficult life in London, just scraping by with his low paying jobs. another notable element of the film is Gholam's involvement in the life of this older woman. much like in the American classic "Taxi Driver", Gholam is more interested in this old woman's plight (whom he meets in his Taxi) than his own. the film moves at a very slow pace. there are many points in which we linger on simple actions such as, drinking milk, sleeping, sitting down at a table, etc. I would imagine the filmmaker's intention here would have been to put you in the shoes of Gholam and really make you feel how powerless and useless he feels. while it certainly does work, it drags on far too long sometimes and makes the experience quite a bore. it is a film after all, and entertainment is nice sometimes. through this boredom and helplessness though we eventually reach a point of frustration. at this point in the film Gholam begins to try and do something. although he deems himself incapable of returning to his homeland he feels a desire to fight. to fight for what's right. I will not spoil how this is achieved, but it is very powerful. the ending is quite abrupt, and dark. it's a very shocking look into how this inner struggle for this particular Immigrant can lead to a very unnecessary, sobering and seriously tragic end.
I do believe the Gholam character could have used some more actual development. it would have been nice to see him open up, even if it were just in a single scene. perhaps an emotional confrontation with someone would have been nice. unfortunately he just mopes around for almost 2 hours.
overall the film does drag in some parts, but the production value is excellent, the acting is excellent and the character of Gholam along with his arc is very sobering and powerfully tragic.
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