In Tehran, the middle-class parents of a 16-year-old boy are going through a divorce and have left him alone to choose who he wants to live with. The boy learns to live like a grown up, first by experiencing with drugs, girls and bad friends. One mistake, though,  finds him trapped in an unwanted situation...

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1 Jan 2009 - 12:00 AM  UPDATED 1 Jan 2009 - 12:00 AM
2.5
Timid tale of disaffected youth a missed chance to lift the lid on Iran.
PERSIAN FILM FESTIVAL: Iranian filmmaker Majid Barzegar’s debut feature lifts the veil on Tehran’s middle class youth whose daily issues – coping with alienation, family break-ups, crime, boredom and skipping school – have a familiar ring.

Alas the potential for a compelling story set in a region and cultural environment that are little known in the West is lost largely due to the deficiencies in the screenplay by Barzegar and Hamed Rajabi.

Rainy Seasons is saddled with a wet blanket in the insipid, sullen protagonist plus a meandering, listless narrative and a disappointing lack of tension or engagement with the characters.

Also, the director fails to convey any real sense of the rhythms and flavour of life in Iran’s capital, choosing to film in nondescript streets and buildings which reveal very little about the city’s character.

The hand-held camerawork by Amin Jafari, long takes and natural lighting do serve the slender story although the frequent panning back and forth between characters becomes repetitive and distracting.

The film was produced by Tehran’s Documentary & Experimental Film Centre, a state-sponsored organisation which turns out about 25 features and 300 shorts per year. According to Variety, the content was deemed 'too offensive" to be screened in Iran although it’s hard to see why the censors objected.

Perhaps the filmmakers imposed their own form of censorship as there are no references to the country’s powerful clerics and paramilitary police or the state's nuclear ambitions, or any hint of discontent with the government.

The central character is Sina (Navid Layeghi Moghadam), a taciturn 16-year-old who mopes around his parents’ comfortable apartment. His parents are getting divorced and, for reasons never explained, have left him alone in the flat, popping in occasionally to give him food and money.

In two weeks he’s due in court to determine whether he wants to live with his mother or father, a promising sub-plot which the scriptwriters abandon before any resolution.

The boy sure needs the cash because he and a friend named Ali (Mehran Khodaei) owe a large sum of money to Masoud (Alireza Bagheri), a motorbike-riding thug. Just why they’re being extorted isn’t revealed until the third act, generating a modicum of sorely-needed suspense.

The sulky Sina finally shows a bit of spark after he meets the attractive, perky Nahid (Marzieh Khoshtarash), who’s just completed a university degree and needs a place to stay.

Eventually, Nahid agrees to stay with Sina, sleeping on the couch while she looks for a job, and a friendship develops. The censors did object, apparently, to a scene in which they sleep on adjoining couches but there’s no hanky panky, merely a hint of a romantic yearning on his part, which she may or may not share.

Their relationship hits a snag after the brutish Masoud demands that Sina arrange for him to meet Nahid and he meekly agrees, injecting another small element of intrigue.

Moghadam is a good-looking lad but he’s required to spend most of the film pouting or looking wimpy and is given little dialogue to explain his feelings about his parents, Nahid, school, his friends or life in general. By the time Sina shows some emotion many viewers may well have given up on him. There’s not a lot to like or admire about a young man who responds to conflicts by listening to head-banging music on his iPod or TV.

So it’s left to Khoshtarash to carry the film as the feisty, effervescent and strong-willed Nahid, who ultimately helps Sina to deal with Masoud, although how she does so is frustratingly ambiguous. That’s a big task which she almost manages.

Details

1 hour 26 min