BOUTIQUE (Hamid Nematollah, 2003)

If Boutique, set in Tehran, is a social survey of young Iranians, as most reviewers seem to think, it is too superficial and scattered to convince. But, recklessly taking my cue from the fact that the protagonist of writer-director Hamid Nematollah’s debut feature is also named Hamid, I would call it instead, or at least foremost, a “get even” movie. Young Hamid in the film, who dresses windows for a mall men’s clothing store, becomes infatuated with a 17-year-old girl, a sort-of runaway, for whom he steals jeans and lavishes with other gifts beyond his means, perhaps ruining his life, only to have her chuck him for outright conventionality. This dismal piece of misogynism masquerading as social critique was shot in digital video. Its defenders may insist, supported by Hamid’s final downward trip in an elevator, that both Hamid and Eti, the girl, are locked into patterns of behavior by the limited range of possibilities open to them in Iran. Whatever; Boutique is flimsy and dull.

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