There is always a reservation in our favourite movie lists for a solid, family drama. Whether it is the portrayal of the irrefutably relatable human experience that we have all lived through, or the considerable empathetic acting strategies of such productions, beckoning us to walk in their shoes. Either way, we are a sucker for a deep story. Snow on Pines … delivers.
Steadfast piano teacher Roya (Mahnaz Afshar), is forced to come to terms with the reality of her husband Ali (Hossein Pakdel) and his adulterous relations with one of her more sultry and wily students. With the assistance of her headstrong friend, budding actress Maryam (Vishka Asayesh), Roya is encouraged to toe the delicate line between obedience of cultural law, and following her heart. When her neighbour’s charming, moon-faced brother Nariman (Saber Abbar) cheekily enters the fray, Roya is confronted with indecision, promise, and a new chance.
There is an undeniable tender charm and drama to the production that keeps you in, something similar to a polished, extended soap opera – albeit, with far greater finesse and form. Afshar is the clear leading lady of the film, with wonderful (believable) characterisation that invites the audiences to experience her dilemma. Pakdel’s portrayal of the cheating husband is captivating in that it’s difficult to hate him, despise his despicable actions. Abbar is immediately likeable and brings a fresh breath of air to the poignant, heavy gloom of Roya’s predicament.
But the strength of the production extends beyond the acting itself. Maadi’s choice of camera angles and symbolic use of the piano and its melodies to signify the shift in emotions is commendable. Even in the more slow-paced scenes, it is difficult to not be emotionally engaged with the characters.
Maadi has achieved exactly what he set out to do, a subtly crafted family drama that invites us to think. There isn’t an imposition of depression and anger as a result of the portrayal of adultery, rather, an easy stroll through the story of brave Roya, and no doubt of countless women facing similar dispositions in Iran. This is Roya’s story; an Iranian woman’s story.
Snow on Pines (Barf roo-ye kajha) opens the 2013 Iranian Film Festival at the Mercury Cinema on 25 October.
Find out more in Glam Adelaide’s recent interview with director Payman Maadi.
Reviewed by Nathan Giaccio
Rating out of 10: 9
- Snow on Pines, Iranian Film Festival
- Glam Adelaide interview with director Payman Maadi
- Mercury Cinema