The White Balloon (1995)

Dir. Jafar Panahi
Starring: Aida Mohammadkhani, etc.

I really enjoyed this film, and I think it’s a safe bet to recommend this to every idiot. I don’t think it’s out on dvd yet, so you would have to get it on vhs. The Hawaii public library has a copy.

This is an Iranian film (written by Abbas Kiarostami). If you’ve never seen an Iranian film, this is a good one to start with. The film starts off with a universal situation: a little girl is begging her mom to buy her something (in this case a goldfish). The rest of the film shows the girl trying to get that godfish. Yes, it’s simple, but it’s surprsingly effective. Indeed, I could describe this as a Disney film, only better.

What makes this film so good is the charming and, sometimes even touching performance of the lead actor, Aida Mohammadkhani. I don’t know how old she is, but she’s playing a seven year old girl. Not only is she cute, but she really makes you feel for her–her expressions of joy and sadness (really realistic crying) were so touching.

Because you like her so much, when she gets into difficult situations, there’s a strong tension created that one could almost understand classifying this as a suspense film. In some of these situations, she meets individuals that could possibly harm her, but when they don’t, you feel a sense of hope for humanity. Indeed, the film seems to affim the goodness in people, and the fact that I didn’t sneer cynically surprised me a bit. Perhaps, my acceptance stems from the fact that I see the Iranians as less modern and Westernized and therefore I could believe these people were more caring. Whatever the reason, it’s nice to be able to enjoy this film at face value.

One final note. I’m still not sure why the film is called “The White Balloon,” as opposed to the more logical name of “The Goldfish.” I should spend time to try and figure it out.

3 Responses to “The White Balloon (1995)”

  1. pen

    Enjoyed this movie a lot, but one of the few that Reid enjoys more than I did.

    I was also impressed with the young girl and her brother, but found her whining a tiny bit wearing at times. The director manages to build tension in everyday type of activities and I admired that a lot. I did not get the “goodness in people” theme quite as strongly as Reid did, but then, hey, maybe I’m more cynical than he is. 😉

    I did get the feeling that I missed some nuances, due to my ignorance of the culture. It was a charming film.

  2. Reid

    I know you liked this movie, but I didn’t think you liked it a lot. (I felt like this recommendation was a miss for me, based on your reaction to the film.) I was definitely surprised that you didn’t like the main character more than you did. I really liked her, and I thought her acting was terrific–charming and believable, but not too precocious or sacchrine.

    In my original post, I recommended this film to everyone, but I would revise that. The neo-realistic story may be too bare-bones for those who mainly like Hollywood films, although if they liked this, I wouldn’t be surprised. I thought the main character would win over most people, but based on Penny and Mitchell’s lukewarm reaction to her, I have to revise my recommendation.

  3. pen

    Mis-typed. Enjoyed the movie a bit. One of the few movies Reid enjoyed more than I did.

    Now the record is correct.

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