My handy-dandy agenda tells me today is Movie Monday where I talk about a lesser-known Netflix Watch Instantly movie. I’m always impressed with how well their recommendation algorithm predicts my movie preferences, but I still gave it the side-eye when it repeatedly recommended Baran. Although I love reading, and I love movies, I don’t really love reading my movies, so I tend to avoid those with subtitles. But after I read the description, I was sold:
When 17-year-old Latif (Hossein Abedini) loses his job at a Tehran, Iran, construction site to the illegally hired Afghan Rahmat (Zahra Bahrami), he begins playing cruel pranks on Rahmat. Soon, however, Latif discovers that Rahmat is actually a girl named Baran, and he begins helping shoulder her burden at the construction site. When officials demand that all illegal workers be fired, Latif must choose between safety and social standing, and his young love.
The sappy romantic in me really likes movies where the girl pretends to be a guy and the love interest falls in love with her anyway: Just One of the Guys, Mulan, Yentl, even that silly Amanda Bynes movie She’s the Man. I think it’s because if a guy who identifies as straight falls in love with you even though he thinks you’re a dude, then he must REALLY love you – at that point it’s not about looks or other superficial things, it’s about truly loving who you are as a person. Since Baran was available on Watch Instantly and I wouldn’t be “wasting” a DVD on it, I decided to watch.
*mild spoilers in this paragraph* The movie was set and filmed in Iran, so it gave me a window into a world I am woefully ignorant about. While the conditions were heartbreaking, the cinematography was incredible and showed the beauty present in that harsh land. The character of Baran never spoke a single word in the film, which helped protect her secret, but was also symbolic of the oppression of
women in that region. The protagonist Latif starts as a brash, yet fearful boy, and by the end is on his way to becoming a brave and selfless man. Since it’s not a Hollywood movie, there’s no Hollywood ending, which I admit was very unsatisfying to that previously mentioned romantic who lurks inside me, but it made the movie feel more real.
Not everything worked – the pace was slow, and some of the acting was problematic – but it was an interesting way to spend an hour and a half. It’s tough to say whether I’d recommend it or not – I’m glad I watched it, but I know it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I appreciated the exposure to a different culture and unimaginable way of life; and as a writer, it was helpful to see storytelling very different from what I usually watch. So thank you to Netflix for once again steering me in the direction of a movie I never would have picked on my own.
Have you seen Baran? If so, what did you think? What movies has Netflix recommended that you enjoyed but never would have picked on your own? How Beautiful is Bailey with her letter B?