I haven’t seen many Iranian films, but this one is right behind The Day I Became A Woman as my favorite Iranian film. This is one of those children’s films that I am always hearing about from Iran, but had only experienced with Kiarostami’s Where Is The Friend’s Home? The film begins with a young boy running some errands. He gets his sister’s shoes, pictured above, repaired. Then he goes to the grocery store and sets the shoes down that have been wrapped in a nondescript bag. He goes into the store to buy some potatoes. While he is picking out the potatoes, the garbage man shows up and picks up what seems to be trash. It isn’t until the kid is done that he realizes they are missing. What will he tell his sister?

After an initial confrontation, the two kids have to figure out what they are going to do while their parents are in the room, but without letting them know. It’s a wonderful sequence where they each write into a notebook and pass it back and forth. They both need shoes for school, but they only have one pair of sneakers and one pair of slippers. The two decide to use the same pair of sneakers. While she is at school, he waits with the slippers and while he is at school, she waits with the slippers.

Swapping Shoes

What makes this film so refreshing is that it is truly a child’s film. These kids aren’t, as Roger Ebert put it, mini stand up comedians. They’re two little kids who are afraid of bothering their father who is trying to keep the family above water. They’re going to solve the problem on their own. It leads to some rather amusing situations such as when the sister loses one of the shoes in a drainage ditch and has to chase after it. A permanent solution to their problem seems to be within reach when a pair of shoes are offered as a prize for a long distancing running race. But it’s not the first nor the second prize, it’s the third prize meaning the brother will have to place third and exactly third if he is going to win the shoes.

The ending is unconventional, but it works and the film earns that ending. I highly recommend this film as an introduction to Iranian cinema and because it will take a hard heart not to be moved.

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