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Day I Became a Woman, The
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by Greg Muskewitz

"A family affair."
2 stars

One who regularly attends Iranian movies would probably gather one of two assumptions: either the surname Makhmalbaf is as common as Smith and Jones are here, or a good number of Iranian filmmakers are all interrelated. Chances are, it is the second, because as the press kit for “The Day I Became a Woman” informs us, revered director Mohsen Makhmalbaf opened his own filmmaking school for family and close friends. “The Day I Became a Woman” is a product of some of his graduates –his wife in particular.

Over a course of three vignettes, “The Day I Became a Woman” shows the unfair treatment of women in Iranian society through three different stages of a female’s life. The first involves a young girl who turns nine, and can no longer play with boys; the second has a bicycling woman refusing to forfeit and return to her husband; and the last has a crippled old woman arriving on an island and buying all the furniture and appliances she ever needed when she was younger –only without an apartment to put them in.

Used as a statement to “speak out” against the Middle Eastern mentality of women in the society, “The Day I Became a Women” functions as nothing new or unique in the struggle, and artistically offers very little compensation. The three episodes were written by Mohsen, while his wife Marzieh Meshkini makes her directorial debut. A graduate from Mohsen’s “private” school, his daughter Samira made her directorial debut with “The Apple” two years ago, and their other children Mayssam and Hanna serve different functions on this (i.e.: editor, still photographer).

None of the “shorts” add up to very much, nor have much of a message beyond how the women populous are affected. The stories tend to be fable-like, particularly the book-ends, but they cease to have any weight or lasting effect. The first has an innocent quality to it, and even though the continuity editing is often off, the young non-actors are sweet. The second story, the most serious-natured, is actually pretty sleepy and low-key considering all the adrenaline that went into pumping the bicycle, and the third is wildly preposterous and inane. As a social commentary, aside from pointing out the detriments, there is very little commenting occurring and no suggestions on how such an issue should be handled. Next time, before the Makhmalbafs sit down as a family to assemble their next family outing, they all might want to discuss how they each can improve what they have with their talents. As difficult as it may be to make something of that nature in the current state of affairs in Iran (getting permits, script approvals, equipments and such), maybe I am downplaying and undermining what “The Day I Became a Woman” accomplished, but that still doesn’t equilibrate the actual presence of importance.

With Fatemeh Cheragh Akhtar, Hassan Nabehan, Shahr Banou Sisizadeh, Ameneh Passand, Shabnam Toloui and Azizeh Seddighi.


Final Verdict: C-.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5254&reviewer=172
originally posted: 05/20/01 23:45:40
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User Comments

6/14/06 Rick cinematic masterpiece, touching and upclose , speaks of truth and life . 5 stars
12/31/01 Bob Smith Best movie of the year 5 stars
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