Children of Heaven

Director: Majid Majidi
Year Released: 1997
Rating: 3.0

I must admit that when most film critics started jumping up and down over what they consider the "hot bed" of movies - the New Iranian Cinema - I remained skeptical. After all, the only film from Iran I've seen recently was Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry, and after that minor atrocity I had feared all other films from the region were as dry. However, my ignorance has been cleared up by Majidi's little film Children of Heaven - a picture Ebert cherishes - which is neither boring nor self-obsessed, but rather just the opposite: concerned with dignity and maturity. While I'll admit the central conceit gets worn a little thin after a bit (it all boils down to a boy losing his poor sister's only pair of shoes), and some of the events that transpire are a tad too coincidental for my tastes (there are a few "it just so happens..." moments scattered throughout), but it really stayed with me, and I found myself cheering for the boy during the film's climax. Slight, and sporadically manipulative (the doe-eyed vagabonds cry in the most grating way), but still fresh and eye opening. If this is just a fraction of what that country has to offer, I need to start exploring a whole lot more.