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A Cube of Sugar
Iranian cinema has given us so many great films - including those made by Abbas Kiarostami, and last year's fantastic A SEPARATION by Asghar Farhadi - that expectations are always raised when you come across another Iranian contribution. Thankfully, Seyyed Reza MirKarimi's finely crafted A CUBE OF SUGAR can stand proudly in such illustrious company.
Iranian cinema has given us so many
great films, including those made by Abbas Kiarostami, and last year's
fantastic A SEPARATION by Asghar Farhadi, that expectations are always raised
when you come across another Iranian contribution. Thankfully, Seyyed Reza
Mir Karimi's finely crafted A CUBE OF SUGAR can stand proudly in such
The basic framework of the story is
very simple, an extended Iranian family gathers in preparation for a family
wedding. Within this structure, however, there is a tightly interwoven network
of individual stories. The plot is so carefully constructed, and the characters
so well portrayed, that the mini dramas played out in this family gathering are
enthralling. The film deftly interweaves many story lines, while taking the time
to observe those tiny but emotionally momentous incidents, a silent exchange between
an old married couple; an excited child finding that he has grown slightly
taller; the patriarch of the family telling a child an enchanting story.
Then there are the magical
interludes where we are invited to step out of time and immerse ourselves in
the vivid sensations of the moment.
Particularly striking is the
cinematography of Hamid Khozui Abyaneh. The whole film is suffused in a warm,
golden hue; the hand-held camera expertly weaves and glides, criss-crosses the
rooms of the family home in its carefully choreographed observation of the
unfolding stories. Then there are the magical interludes where we are invited
to step out of time and immerse ourselves in the vivid sensations of the
moment. One such scene stands out, where the bride-to-be, on a swing, sweeps
gently through the air, repeatedly reaching for an apple: this becomes a moment
of exquisite sensuality, like an Impressionist painting brought to life.
As with A SEPARATION, this film
gives us a view of everyday life in modern Iran that is vastly different from that conjured up by television news reports. In A CUBE OF SUGAR you get to see
a more humane and rounded view of this society. It provides a vivid and moving
portrait of family life - the humor and infectious laughter, the troubled
relationships, the moments of tenderness and contemplation, sadness and loss.
Like all good cinema, it is both universal and particular - a delightful,
engaging, and insightful film.