A THOUSAND WOMEN LIKE ME (Seyyed Reza Mir-Karimi, 2000)

Set to a heart-sweeping musical theme by Kambiz Roshan Ravan, Herazan zan mesle man, from Iran, is about a divorced couple and their seven-year-old son, Nima, in contemporary Tehran. As is the wont of the patriarchal Islamic court, full custody of Nima, who is diabetic, has been awarded to the father, Hesam, a businessman whose priority is his work. As a result, Hesam inconsistently monitors Nima’s sugar level; Nima suffers a “diabetic shock” and is hospitalized. Sharzad, his mother, thus renews her claim to custody, which the court again rejects. A lawyer herself, Sharzad takes the boy away with her; the police come after her. The film’s title translates as Thousands of Women Like Me.
     This film of quarrels and sorrows was well written by Seyyed Reza Mir-Karimi and Azitia Mougouie, with the former directing beautifully. This is a sensitive, powerful work about a mother’s love for her son, who, if he survives his condition, will likely grow up to resemble his cold, presumptuous father. Our realization of this floods the film’s close, a long-shot freeze-frame that includes all three major characters. Sharzad’s voiceover, ironically, tends toward a scrap of hopefulness.
     Indeed, Sharzad’s voiceover binds the film as though the film itself were a wound. At one point, the editing juxtaposes part of her voiceover and what initially seems a singular instance of Hesam’s voiceover but which turns out to be Hesam pleading his position to others. By contrast, the interiority of her voiceover compensates and strengthens Sharzad for the exterior world that gives no credence to her claim of motherhood—a world biased toward Hesam’s claims. Shades of Él (Luis Buñuel, 1952)! Her own mother counsels Sharzad to reconcile with Hesam for Nima’s sake.
     Niki Karimi is superb as Sharzad.

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