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Recently met Maryam Keshavarz
drawnprophet11 December 2012
I recently met Maryam Keshavarz after watching a screening of Circumstance. A lot of the reviews here complain that it is unrealistic and that she has no basis of Iranian culture and that the actors aren't from Iran, etc. But Keshavarz's family is from Iran and she spent a lot of time there as a child. She based Mehran's character off of her uncle who made a similar transition after war. As for the actors, all of them are Iranian. They might not have been living in Iran, but she said all of them are from Iran. And she could not advertise the roles in Iran.

Secondly, it doesn't look like Iran BECAUSE IT'S NOT. The director was forced to shoot the film in a different country under great suspicion. This film was shot on actual film, not digital, and all of it happened within the span of six weeks. Which is not that long. The cinematography is phenomenal.

And finally. This movie is illegal in Iran. And none of the actors or the director are allowed back to Iran. Ever. I think that says something.

I personally thought this movie was beautiful. The cinematography was good. The plot was enticing and wonderfully executed for the budget and restraints they faced.

I highly recommend this movie.
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Far better than many of the reviews (which seem to have a strange agenda)
zetes29 January 2012
A film made by an Iranian expatriate living in the United States. The film is set in Iran, but was filmed in Beirut. The story follows two best friends, Nikohl Boosheri and Sarah Kazemy, who discover a sexual attraction after Kazemy moves in with Boosheri after her dissident parents disappear (and are assumed to have been murdered by the government). Meanwhile, Boosheri's brother, a former drug addict who has become deeply religious after returning from prison, spies on his friends and family, and is completely open to turning any of them into Iran's morality police. This film has mostly been dismissed by critics and viewers (it has a fairly dismal 6.0 rating on IMDb), and I can understand some of their criticisms. It's a little too glossy, a little too polished, and the hot, teenage, lesbian sex is more than a tad exploitative (almost Cinemax-ian at times). But, really, there's a very good human story at the core of this, with very well written and performed characters. Boosheri, in particular, is just fantastic. I think it's also partly dismissed because it wasn't filmed in Iran - if it was, it would have been a critical hit for sure - and the director probably would have been stoned to death, which would make it even more beloved. Keep in mind that the writer/director, Maryam Keshavarz, is actually an Iranian woman who escaped her home country.
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How to lose an idea in 107 minutes
eshghefilm30 December 2011
OK, first of all let me tell you that I'm a 28-year-old Iranian woman who has left the country just a few months ago so actually my whole life has been spent in that system.

When I saw the trailer and awards, I thought it might be a good movie so last night I watched it with positive expectations but as the time passed by, it all turned to deep disappointment. I felt my time was wasted and the director has grabbed a good idea (personal experience of friends as she says) and made worth of nothing out of it. I understand making a movie about one country in another land can be difficult, especially when you have to use a cast who were immigrants' children and can't speak their mother-tongue fluently; but it could have been tolerable if you had a screen play as good as the main idea and the characters were believable.

Not even one line of dialogue in this movie made sense. it was a very poor imitation of everyday slang in the society and they were totally irrelevant. The plot lacked harmony and it was unreal. The characters' reactions to circumstances were like a very bad joke, specially Mehran and his father; I don't know which planet they were from!! People like Mehran and his way of life don't invite their extremist superior to a family party were women are not covered. And his father in the beginning clearly opposes the religious system and then drinks tea with a man who is insulting his daughter( thanks to Mehran) and in the ends is saying prayers next to his troubled son.

Also most of the erotic scenes and language were unnecessary and could simply be avoided but in the end, it felt like that was the only reason this movie was made. Just to break the taboos, grab a good idea, add some nudity and language, write a few irrational lines which were just in farsi but had nothing to do with Iranian culture, shoot the film and win some awards because the western society does not know about Iranian people and their real way of life.

Iranians can't like this film because it is not like life in Iran and they easily find plot holes in every scene; the western viewers like this film because they think that's how life is in reality, they don't see the problems in the film and enjoy two hot lesbian girls making out with each other and almost every man in this movie!
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An Unrealistic Drama
kousha-k11 December 2011
The first word that comes to my mind for this movie is exaggeration.All the praying and character of "Mehran" and government agents don't make much sense. The director tried to make the city she was filming in like Tehran which was a wrong choice. She tried to focus on faces and removes the attention to background when shooting in city which ruins the depth of the scenes and every single Iranian easily realize that it is not Tehran. Except for "Azar" no other actors or actresses have native accent.The story line is weak and not thoroughly worked. In general, it would be a good idea to show the homosexuals' problems in Iran and discuss it, but it dissolves in exaggerated opinions of director/writer about the whole government issues and forced marriage and specially in captured minds of people (like in 1984). In my opinion, trying to mix these stuff was a bad idea.
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What a lyrical n beautiful film.....n this is not the Iran of Kiarostami, Majid Majidi or Makhmalbaf !!!
rajsingharora12 August 2012
just could not believe that this is a film made by a first time seemed more like someone who knew his craft of making film rather well....a director well into his 3rd film.....keeping aside the fact its a little confusing in its love & sex angles......which is just the icing on this delicious cake that lies within this film.....the icing being of course Sarah Kazamey as Shireen....she is defiantly going to be the next Monica Bellucci mark my words !!!But what stood out in the film for me was the underground Party scene of Iran and the appropriate use of music to describe it......i guess most people in the west cannot fathom people in eastern( i am from India) or middle eastern countries having a cool time.....well they do n they know how to given the CirCumstance !!!!!!!!!!!!!! and i read the reviews of some people above dishing the film....i mean if you want a film about Iran that is a documentary well then please turn on your respective News Channels or better still plz revisit n read the the summary above.....This film is a Lyrical Drama poetically shot....hats of to the Cinematographer/ DP( lots of cool wong kar wai style moments original in their own unique way).....superb acting by everyone i loved the actor who played Atafeh's father splendid father daughter understanding of a relationship depicted in this film in such a mature n modern way seldom seen in countries where women are meant to be locked up....being an aspiring filmmaker i loved this film by a first time director 5 stars for a fabulous debut.....n yeah for the guys ditching the film take a closer look guys.....n see the nominations & awards and this is her first film !!!
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Circumstance is showing the story of two teenage Iranian girls in love
goli-shabnam28 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Circumstance, as written on the movie posters, is outrageously sexy; this is the only special thing about it. Roger Ebert on his website and Chicago Sun-Times clearly states that this is a very shallow movie, the movie begins with the story of two teenage girls in love, but instead of focusing on their relationship and the impossibility of them being together in today's Iran which is a very unique and new look at Iran's modern society, it tries to emphasize on eroticism. The director, who is also the writer, is ignoring important facts about Iran for the sake of sexy scenes; only since this is the first Iranian movie showing lesbians. She vividly tries to manipulate the audience by distracting them with absolutely irrelevant insignificant details, like the scene showing the girls and two of their friends dubbing a movie making erotic sounds. A.O.Scott in The New York Times says the movie "lacks the artful, headlong immediacy of The Circle and The Offside by Jafar Panahi and No One Knows about Persian Cats by Bahman Ghobadi". It certainly does. There is no point in this comparison.

There are defects in the story, it is unintelligible and there many scenes which are irrelevant to the main flow of the story. Mehran, as Scott in The New York Times perfectly calls ,is the serpent in their garden. The point is he would be more felt as the so called serpent if he was able to play his role more realistically. The other downside is his character in the story itself. In a very early shot he is shown smoking heroin but no longer in the movie anything is shown about his addiction or the rehab and the way this could affect the plot. He used to be a musician but turns into a spy videotaping all happening in their house and then changes into a spy for the Morality Police and says long loud prayers. All these are absolutely incoherent. By the end of the movie we see he influences the father of the family, Firouz, who is very open-minded and reasonable, a musician and wants his wife and daughter sing in a party. He says prayers at one of the lasts scenes of the movie beside Mehran. This is another flaw in the story, How could a father as intellectual as that change with no obvious reason?

The guy who is working for Morality Police as the movie calls, is shown in the mosque later in the police station as the investigator and then at their family party at the end of the movie. How rational is it to invite such a guy to such a party?

Gary Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times believes Keshavarz is less successful managing the film's sometimes choppy narrative although she is very willing to take risks. There is something more that should be mentioned, Keshavarz tries to add Persian spice to her movie by Persian dance, Persian music, Persian rugs( under the piano) , Persian beautiful girls , but she is absolutely unsuccessful in showing the real contemporary Tehran and to larger scale Iran. The underground party, the way Police arrests the girls in the car for no obvious and logical reason, the tea which is served everywhere exaggerating the fact that Iranians always drink tea as opposed to westerns drinking coffee or anything else, the situation at school where Atefe wants to pay Shirin's tuition in cash right out of her purse are just unreal. They are fake and flawed. If there is any step to be taken to improve Iran's cinema or to familiarize the world with Iran's culture or even to show what is going on inside Iran under the harsh pressure of the government or the wrong stereotypes of the society, it must be realistic. Eroticism, nudity and sexual attractions are not what Iran's cinema, society and people need; a clear reflection of the real life of people will be much more effective.
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Love is...
gradyharp17 January 2012
CIRCUMSTANCE is a brave film from the respected filmmaker Maryam Keshavarz who both wrote and directed this film about contemporary mores and cultural taboos in Iran. It is a film that dares to create a story about family, the youth culture of clubs and drugs and all night music, about the Morality Police who carefully guard the standards of public (and private!) behavior, and about same sex liaisons. It is a beautifully photographed study of star-crossed lovers who happen to both be young teenage girls and the manner in which they cope with their love and with the family and world outside the sanctity of their breathtakingly erotic moments together. Because of the lack of sanctions of the themes of the film which is supposedly set in Tehran the film had to be shot in Lebanon: knowing this adds to the impact of the drama the film so carefully exposes.

Since any public expression of passion is forbidden between Keshavarz's two teenage female protagonists, it brings a whole other level of tension and dread to their shared attraction. Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri) has the resources and security provided by her wealthy family that allows her to live a double life with her friend and eventual lover, Shireen (Sarah Kazemy). In order to fully explore their feelings, the young women escape into their fantasies of living in a more enlightened land such as Dubai, a haven which is tantamount to Oz. The life of teenage love is difficult enough, but it is even more difficult if that love is between two members of the same sex. Apparently Iran is a country where homosexual relationships can be punishable by death. Atafeh lives in a family of wealth and privilege with her parents (Soheil Parsa and Nasrin Pakkho) and brother, Mehran, (Reza Sixo Safai). Shireen is not of the same class: she lives with her Aunt and Uncle after being orphaned by her parents who were killed by the government for their immoral ways. Atahfeh and Shireen are two teenage school girls who begin as best friends and gradually discover that they are in love. The girls are also rebellious to Iran's strict religious and socialist ways, being caught up in Tehran's underground nightclub scene. Mehran, a former musician and drug addict, has become a radical Muslim and informant for the Morality Police, installing cameras in every room of his home to spy on his family, capturing all the comings and goings of each member of the household, including the trysts between Ayafeh and Shireen, and devises a plan with the Morality Police to marry Shireen after she and Atafeh are arrested by the morality police for partying at a night club. The young lovers discover the circumstances that force them into lives away from each other and the decisions they make (or are made for them) form the conclusion of this haunting film.

Apparently there is great resentment from many Persian viewers who feel the film does not project the real situation in Tehran or in Iran as a whole. This may be true, but the film is not a documentary: Keshavarz has taken an idea and molded with certain flavors and spices and delivers this brave little film by introducing the extraordinary beauty of the two leading actresses. The cast is solid and if the script could use some editing or re-sculpting it still delivers a concept about same sex love and the lack of acceptance that seems to be global. We rarely are able to see Persian films and this one is well worth attention. It is not meant to be factual: it is a story exotically told - and memorable.

Grady Harp
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Amazing Cinematic Achievement
jkeagle14 July 2011
I saw this film at Outfest 2011 and was blown away not only by the film's quality of visual and emotional impact, but also the amazing achievement that the artists have made by getting this story told in the first place. The international cast and crew have each taken big risks by telling this gripping story about two young women in love in Iran.

Our audience at the screening was struck by the POSITIVE and FUN images of Iranian youth- excited, energetic, comedic, brave. Very much in contrast with what the media tells us Tehran "looks like." The two female leads are incredibly stunning and give amazing performances. They say more with their eyes than paragraphs or monologues would need to convey. Their chemistry is palpable and the brief but urgent love scenes make any audience member root for their success.

The Director, Maryam Keshavarz, is talented, well-spoken, has a clear and distinct voice and is someone to watch.
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This is not a good movie
baabak200229 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is absolutely exaggerated very unbelievable and completely disappointing. When I see a movie, I expect that I see something a little bit real especially in regards to its content. For example, this is a social movie and it suppose to be accurate and smooth. However, what we see? We see all characters of this movie are not as efficient as the girls. Director forgot to pay attention to other actors. In this case, you see the son of family who left the music and works as a Pasdar(police)controls all of the house for what? To get married with the girl? His job is very normal(bringing tea to other people) while he is driving a Mercedes Benz and also wants to have a huge house with six bedrooms isn't it funny? This movie attempts to show Iranian parts of Iranian society or personality but in my opinion was very disappointing.
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A luscious, sensual, sexy drama about friendship & love...under tough circumstances
farshidk6 May 2011
Circumstance is a beautiful, luscious, sensual and sexually charged drama, done masterfully and tastefully. It is a visual film, but it is also blessed with witty dialogs and good music. It deals with common and real youth and family issues in Iran, and potentially in other countries...Circumstance is about two liberated, free-spirited 16 year old high school girls, the wild and rebellious Atafeh and Shireen. They are best friends and seem together all the time. They go to underground Tehran parties, flirt with boys, experiment with sex and drugs, and often get in trouble. At times they daydream of a better life away from Iran together. But they are more than just friends...

Please see my full review at
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Why did i watch this film?
rafighi6 June 2012
So unreal. So exaggerated. Since i've watched this film i've started asking myself why and how someone dares to waste money and time to make such a film? Was it a FILM really?!!!!!!! The accents are funny. The actors suck!! (except Ati' mom) There are plenty of goofs. The story is full of lies. The director (?????!!!!!!!!!) needs to wait at least 25 years for her next film. The cars are not the ones which are used in Iran. The praying action is full of mistakes. Mehran's character and acting is awful. The police is not like that in Iran, however they are rude. The hidden camera story in all rooms is more like a joke, everyone is blind in that house?
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bhobbi27 December 2011
I seldom write reviews for movies, but since the director of this movie is a NYC graduate and I got my film degrees in New York as well (to no avail!), I feel the urge to write the following: You do not have to make a movie even if you are a film graduate and want to succeed! If you know little about a culture, people and society, what urgency do you find to absolutely portray them anyway! You only ruined it for yourself and that's it! The movie fails from the first second to the last, with absolutely no plot, no story telling capabilities, fake dialogue, fake acting and many stolen images and scenes from other successful movies. The director is extremely preoccupied in showing off and has no intention to in fact make a good, truthful and original film, as the story is very interesting, very controversial. I felt even more sorry for the so called intellectual and educated Iranian population abroad as they once again prove incompetent and fake in comparison with Iranian filmmakers in Iran, who despite their enormous limitations and hardships there, tend to stick to originality.....
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Girls' love in an oppressed society
vivaldi-bgd4 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
So what if the story does not reflect the Iranian society, culture and LGBT community? This is a beautiful coming-of-age story about love between two girls developing in a strongly oppressed society. Even if it is not Iranian, which is hard for me to believe, unfortunately there are many other places on Earth where same-sex love is strongly disapproved of and even criminalized.

This multi-faceted film tells several stories and all but the love story are very disturbing - religious fanaticism, denied human rights, strong patriarchal society, drug addiction, hypocrisy, personal psychological issues. Amid the turbulent background, there is a pure and innocent relationship between the two girls, aged 16-ish. The two leading actresses played excellent roles, portraying masterfully both joy and agony. The agony which they are going through is almost physically hurting. I admired attention to detail in depicting this young love. The only thing that lacked a stronger connection between the two girls is the marriage ceremony and party afterward. As a turning point of their lives, one would expect their belonging to each other to be expressed more clearly especially through eye contact.

Contemporary lesbian cinematography contains true masterpieces but also epic fails. This film is one of the bright examples of a well-written, directed and produced pieces of art. In spite of the ending, we are indeed left with hope that things can change for same-sex love in this dark world.
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Simply overrated
aaraghi3 December 2011
"Circumstance" is not a good movie and it basically strays into distracting eroticism. There is no convincing story here worth telling. You are not sure if the girls were in love or just caught up in finding and experimenting with their sexuality in very young age. Lesbian fantasies throughout the movie are visualised all too aesthetic with bright lights, colours and music. This is not just unnecessary and counterproductive, but also far from the reality in a society with huge heritage and significant past that in fact admire naivety and innocence. You may just like the way it portrayed, again imperfectly, the unseen side of Iran's underground culture but "Circumstance" is hardly about revelation and more interested in titillation!
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believe not only it was a different movie but brave in scenario and amazing casting
fresh-airnov12 August 2012
lets start by the point which makes this movie way different from other movies with regards to Iran one was poor or uncultured or no camel on the street so that is good! 2.people tend to say stuff in other movies but taboos don't let that happen , well we heard it all in this film one ever talked about this concept (homosexuality)in any iranian movie before (i know this movie was way more that just homosexuality it covered it all!) 4. i happen to know a family quit similar in Iran , and trust me the brother of the family is an idiot just like Mehran he is a basiji while the sister is fooling around 5.finally we see many iranian moves which are good in scenario and concept but directing is weak somehow loose , like normal stuff , you can see the boom or unnatural scene , i didn not find any in this film , the genre was nice and clear not a random lets make a movie thing and thanks to ms.keshavarz we find many good new and old actors/actresses whom we did not know so far , the fact that the director was a female it self made me really glad too finally great job every one loved it at the end i want to thank the choice of music , Zan by a girl rapper . the name of the movie which is indeed best possible choice , for me though it was the circumstance for the father of the family whi changed as well as him! and the girls , well all iranian teens are having same problem
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Futile attempt over a precieux truth
devoted_satan4 January 2012
The movie fails at projection of Iran's society condition and its crisis, the story line is thorn apart and follows no intentional logic ,bad performances and weak dialogues complete the disappointment of watching a movie that is praised in some important festivals.

As an Iranian I believe the director is far from the current condition of Iran and although it seems like she concerns about the existing problems in Iranian society she fails to dig into those obstacles. feeble decoration design, locations and character definition are other aspects in which the movie fails, its full of goofs and unrealistic situations and unexplained incidents (eg. as an Iranian director she should know that 16 yr old teenagers are not allowed to drive in that country and more importantly the traditional relation between members of a family).

The emotional relationship between the two girl was supposed to be the center of the storyline although it never engages in those emotions and leaves the viewer unattached to the movie.

All in all, to watch this picture is a waste of time and the only thing that can possibly make someone to watch it to the end is the beauty of Sarah Kazemi.
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rafaelacavlina1 July 2018
I don't understand why this movie has such a low rating. This movie is SO IMPORTANT. I think that everyone should see it to understand better what is STILL happening in the world right at this moment. Movie is different than what we usually see these days. It touches an issues of women/lgbtq people in Iran, a muslim conservative country. Acting of Nikohl Boosheri and Sarah Kazemy is really something to talk about. I absolutely loved it. It really fits their characters and they did an amazing job. They made me really feel the characters. I can't imagine better actresses for the roles. All in all, amazing movie, 10/10. Not everyone will like it but I think it's worth to give it a shot at least..
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Very weak!
hmmh539 January 2012
Very weak directing, writing and acting. Just look at how Mehran's dad or Mehran himself act! Also, the roles have not been properly defined. This is insulting to gays and lesbians, as they r shown to be very rude and offender. Are these all the Iranian actors and actress abroad? and is this movie all the potential of Iran film industry out of the country? The best actor/actress is Ati's mom. the dad sucks! As an Iranian, I really feel frustrated. Also, it's not reflecting Iranian culture at all. I hope non-Iranians not to think this as a Iranian publicity event. The movie does not represent a major challenge of Iranian young people.

Again, to me this is a very weak movie. however, I'm sure these are not all Iranian actors and actress we have out of the country? The all the potential of Iranian film industry out of the country.
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Pretentious, unrealistic, wanna-be art-house drama
hideous_stranger27 December 2011
Circumstance is a purpose-driven film. All of its elements (plot, casting, directing, etc.) are aimed at being controversial. The movie sets out to appeal to the Westerner's curiosity about an issue that is widely debated in the media and other circles: Homosexuality in Iran, and to me, it is a gigantic failure of epic proportions!

Controversy should be the bi-product of a work of art, not its sole purpose. It's as if the writer/director of this film sat down and brainstormed all the things that would potentially make her film controversial: homosexuality, lesbian love scenes, rape, the morality police in Iran. I'm so sorry to say that it even failed in achieving its main purpose, largely due to the film's extremely artificial depiction of life.

The acting in this movie is just horrendous. As a speaker of Persian, I cringed every time the actors opened their mouths. There was this pig-headed insistence on breaking taboos and speaking about the unspeakable. Even if we turn a blind eye towards the acting, the characters were just contradictory to the point of being comedic!

Overall, this movie was a hodgepodge of weak elements sloppily pasted together to form a pretentious, poor excuse of a movie. I wish I'd watched 'Jack and Jill' instead.
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A poetic, melodic story of love and prejudice. Masterfully told!
alijavad-604-1255593 October 2014
This is by far the most prized Iranian film made after revolution. Acting, directing, and cinematography is unmatched by any Iranian movie. Unlike other films that have to work under the veil of censorship, this film is real.It's a beautiful, melodic, poetic love story told with color and light. Amazing care is taken to to keep the integrity of the story. Scenes of Iran, locations, props and set designs all have deep and real Iranian roots. I did not see this film when it first came on,I thought it was a porn! but then I saw it and fell in love with it. I see about 5 films a week, this was one of the best!My sincere congratulations to this young director for creating such a master work.
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Hard-hitting exposé of repressed society or cheap shot? You decide!
Turfseer17 January 2012
As an American, I try to read about what the Iranian regime is up to every day. It's a scary, dangerous place, that conjures up images of a police state akin to Nazi Germany. Maryam Keshavarz's new film, Circumstance, attempts to reveal the repressive nature of Iranian society by focusing on the relationship between two teenage school girls from Tehran, Atafeh, who lives with her liberal parents and Shireen, raised by an uncle after her dissident parents presumably were murdered by the Mullahs some time after the Iranian Revolution.

Keshavarz spent some time growing up in Iran but it's my understanding that she's been thoroughly ensconced in the USA for quite some time. In interviews, Keshavarz indicates that she based her script on her some of her own experiences as well as the experiences of some her Iranian relatives. Hence, her narrative appears to be written at a distance, with the resulting storyline full of tasty morsels but never quite arriving at the main course.

We do learn about the rebellious, underground youth culture in Iran and there's an interesting scene where Atafeh and Shireen meet up with some friends including an Iranian-American, who conscripts the girls to participate in the dubbing of the American film, 'Milk', into Farsi. It's perhaps the most humorous scene in the entire movie, as the director chastises one of the participants for sounding "too gay" on the soundtrack.

Also interesting is the role of the 'morality police', as they seek to crush the spirit of the many rebellious youth, dissatisfied with repressive governmental policies. While Atafeh's brother, Mehran, ends up as an informer for the police, I wanted to know much more about how the group operates. Atafeh and Shireen are saved through Mehran's connections but I shudder to think of what happens to innocent citizens who don't have a family member to bail them out.

There were other scenes which I had no way of confirming were true. For example, Atafeh's father's assertion that he looks forward to the day that women can swim in the ocean. Some posters who claimed to be from Iran asserted that women are not prevented from swimming besides men. There was also a scene where an extremely sexually frustrated cabbie masturbates while fondling one of the girl's feet. Again, it's difficult to know whether this type of behavior is the norm in such a conservative society. One scene that did ring true was the arrest of the Iranian-American film director. At one point, we can hear a TV news broadcast in the background which notes the young man's arrest and that he is an American-Israeli agent (it would seem to me that anyone with joint Iranian-American citizenship would be insanely foolish to return to Iran at this juncture in time).

Keshavarz wastes quite a bit of time by focusing on the illicit lesbian relationship between Atafeh and Shireen. I would have much preferred the director to have limited the erotic contact to a minimum as it feels more like what American teenagers might do than the kind of behavior we would expect from Iranian girls, presumably much more shy and conservative, than their American counterparts.

Keshavarz attempts to humanize Mehran, having him break down after his marriage to Shireen and her negative response to him in the sack. That short hint of vulnerability is enough for Shireen to turn a cold shoulder toward Atafeh and suddenly embrace the backward Mehran. Not sure if I bought that sudden character transformation. The same goes for Atafeh and Mehran's father who rejects religion when we first meet him but then joins Mehran, bowing to Mecca on a prayer shawl at film's end.

While the film makes much of scenes of surveillance footage, connoting the Big Brother mentality in Iranian society, what's missing is a more nuanced portrait of the bad guys. What actually was Mehran and his superior doing at the party where Atafeh and her mother were singing together? I hardly think that those type of fanatics could have sat there and listened to women singing unless of course they were there seeking out additional intelligence.

For a first feature, 'Circumstance' is visually quite impressive. In the end, however, it's a film that's more style over substance. What was needed was more of a hard-hitting exposé than the tame domestic drama we end up with here.
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full of exaggeration
afshin_fantastic20024 December 2011
First,This movie is just a copy of "A room in Rome" .

Second,The director isn't showing what really exists in Iran but rather her dream Iran.she just wants to question family values in Iran and encourage homosexuality; that is homosexuality is fine and marriage is bad.

I didn't see anything but exaggeration in this movie especially the numerous scenes showing Mehran is saying prayers. The funniest thing is the so-called location of the country and the cars that aren't similar to Iran at all. I wish the director had worked a bit reality into her movie.
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Forbidden love in a forbidden country.
filmcriticonfire8 January 2012
Teenage love is not easy. It is even more difficult if that love is between two members of the same sex. Throw that mix into a country where homosexual relationships can be punishable by death, and you have the makings of a good story. Atafeh (Boosheri) lives in a family of wealth and privilege with her mother, father and brother, Mehran. (Reza Sixo Safai.) Shireen (Kazemy) comes from the other side of the tracks, so to speak. She lives with her Aunt and Uncle after being orphaned by her parents who were killed by the government for their immoral ways. Atahfeh and Shireen are two teenage school girls. The pair who are best friends, soon discover that they are in love. The girls are also rebellious to Iran's strict religious and socialist ways. They are big into Tehran's underground nightclub scene, and are friends with people who are self-liberated. Mehran, who was a former drug addict, has become a radical Muslim and informant for the Morality Police. He has planted cameras all over the house to spy on his family. Mehran derives a plan with the Morality Police to marry Shireen after she an Atafeh are arrested by the morality police for partying at a night club. The pair discovers that their circumstances in life are forced upon them and beyond their control. They both dream of running away to Dubai where they would be free to live their lives the way they wanted to. The story had a good plot-line; forbidden love, oppression of women, and teenage rebellion in a patriarchal country… but the narrative seemed to just graze over those subjects as a whole, when it could have gone more in depth with each of them. The sub-plot of Shireen's home life was minimal at best. Atafeh's mother can tell that her daughter's relationship with Shireen is more than friendship, but that part of the story never fully develops either. The plot seemed to move slowly at times, and with a bit of a soap opera pace, but it was good enough to keep my interest in the film. Maryam Keshavarz, in her feature film debut, does however show the impact of Iran's strict religious culture on the two girls. The viewer does get the impression of what could happen to the pair if their true relationship is discovered. The performances of the young actresses, both in their theatrical debut, do a good job in making their relationship believable.

Winner of the Audience Award at the 2011 Sundance film festival, this foreign film is worth the 107 minutes it takes to watch.
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Could be better
saman_salari20022 December 2011
Honestly the first parts of the movie is not so fascinatingly as it should be, after a while it gets more deeper to the real situations in Iran. It doesn't say how Mehran really evolve to a point that he hurts his own family. What had been seen here from Mehran, I think comes from all Iranian women mind that they think men are evil. it wasn't explained why Ati wanted to stay. And "Dad"'s reactions to his son's works was unnatural. Now the good things are, that despite shortage of money and location, camera somehow gave the common viewer the feeling that, it is in fact in Iran (except one seen). Shireen played a really good Iranian girl, Also Ati's Mother played a very good Iranian mother. Director used so many no-face people which I can't understand the reason. She was successful to transfer lots of problems in Iranian society but jumped so many time from situation to situation. Personally I think the scene that Shireen is in a taxi and what taxi driver did, was the best. It showed how lower level society of Iran is so sick in the mean time showed deep pressure on both sides in that taxi.
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a movie about Iranian circumstances or a movie about some teenagers!
noroozi_asad18 February 2012
This film could be a good movie if the film crew knew more about the new generation, specially the girls in Iran. As an Iranian I couldn't believe the main characters. in comparison I can say that the character and performing of Shaun Toub in Crash(2004) and Ben Kingsley in House of sand and fog(2003) that both are non-Iranian, were more believable as Iranian than them. they cannot behave like an Iranian because they don't live in Iran and most of them have never been to Iran(according to IMDb).So each of them is completely performing as a teenager that has been growing in a different culture other than Iran. the film location and its elements are totally nonsense and different with Iran and what is important is that the audience who are familiar with Iranian culture and Iran can easily feel this differences. the Brother personality is very rare among Iranian youth and his behavior is overstated. in nutshell it is not about Iranian circumstances but it is about circumstances which can be related to an Iranian family who live in a foreign country but they think they should still consider some circumstances.
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