People smuggling, family honour, and the confusion of adolescence drive Paradise Is Somewhere Else, the debut feature of Iranian filmmaker Abdolrasoul Golbon. Eidak (Yar-Mohammad Damanifour) is a 17-year-old shepherd who's fed up of life in his dustbowl village in Iran and wants to escape to the United Arab Emirates. After his father is killed in a construction site accident, though, Eidak finds himself drawn into a cycle of revenge and despair that threatens to scupper his plans of escape.
"FINDS POWER IN ITS SIMPLICITY"
A simple coming-of-age tale without the allegorical emphasis typical of much Iranian cinema, this movie finds power in its simplicity, and strength in the slow dramatic development of its central story. Hiring a young Afghani refugee (Jan-Mohammad Tajik) to tend his goats, Eidak prepares to escape across the border in search of a new life and, rather sweetly, fulfilling his dream of owning a Toyota. After his father is killed, though, he faces a terrible crisis. Should he accept his grandfather's offer of a rifle, and take his revenge on the man responsible for running the construction site? Or should he escape abroad instead?
Charting the relationship between Eidak and his Afghani other half, Golbon captures the uncertainty of adolescence and the striking demands made on both these young boys to become men before their years. With a tuft of downy hair sprouting over his upper lip, Eidak isn't old enough to shave; yet he's apparently old enough to commit cold-blooded murder.
"What do you want from this world except for a job, life, money and a car?" asks one of Eidak's peers, confused by his desire to leave Iran. Eidak doesn't come up with an answer, but we know that he's really searching for more - a sense of himself and the world he lives in. Ironically, that's something he can discover at home just as easily as abroad - as the final, tantalisingly pregnant image of this understated film so aptly proves.
In Farsi with English subtitles.