Thursday, March 28, 2024

An Iranian woman seeks her freedom


You'd have to have been living in an alternate universe not to know that many Iranian women face difficulties bred by oppression and patriarchal tyranny. So it's hardly surprising that writer/director Nora Niasari's Shayda provides another powerful example, this time focusing on Shayda (Zar Amir Ebrahimi),  a woman who traveled to Australia  with her medical-student husband (Osamah Sami). When the movie opens, Shayda already has separated from her abusive spouse. She and her seven-year-old daughter (Selina Zahednia) live in a shelter that protects battered women. The story's considerable tension revolves around Shayda's attempts to be free. She has filed for divorce but fears that if her husband takes their child to Iran, mother and daughter will be separated forever. As the story develops, Shayda receives support from a friend (Rina Mousavi) who no longer lives a traditional lifestyle. She also meets a young man (Mojean Aria) who has spent time in the US and embraces modernity.  Ebrahimi carries the movie, infusing every scene with a mix of determination and dread. Initially, Shayda's husband claims to be receptive to change but he can't contain the rage that drives him. Nasari, who reportedly based some of the movie on her own life, may not break new ground, but with Ebrahimi's help, she makes Shayda's story feel alarmingly fresh.

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