The Girls House: Film review

KHANEH DOKHTAR (The Girl’s House)

prod. Mohamad Shayesteh

dir. Shahram Shahhosseini

writ. Parviz Shahbazi

The Girl’s House is a thought-provoking mystery that examines culture and guilt and teases out a web of relationships in contemporary Iran.

The director, Shahram Shahhosseini, handles the material with sensitivity and intelligence. He establishes the themes of self-reflection, truth, and deflection in the very first image of the film as Bahar, one of the main characters, walks along a mirrored hallway. The fractured images and shifting reality speak to the multiple versions of self that we project to those around us. Mirrors appear frequently throughout the film.

Bahar and Parisa shop for the wedding.

Bahar is shopping with Parisa. The two friends are preparing for the wedding of their friend, Samira, scheduled for the following day. They receive a phone call from an anonymous woman to tell them that their friend is dead and they are dropped into the middle of a mystery where guilt and complicity taints everyone they talk to.

The two friends visit Samira’s family as well as the venue of the wedding. A strange email leads them to their friend’s grave in search of answers. No one will tell them how Samira died. Secrecy and layers of cultural obligation stand between Bahar and Parisa and the truth.

The film really picks up pace when it jumps back to the day of Samira’s death. Her fiancée, Mansoor, recalls the events of that day and his confusion as their happy preparations unraveled into tragedy.

The performances are superbly realist, giving a glimpse into life in modern Iran. In the second half of the film, Pegah Ahangarani, lights up the screen as Samira. The scene at the graveside is beautifully directed and Samira’s fiancée, played by Hamed Behdad, and Bahar and Parisa played by Baran Kosari and Ra’na Azadivar convey the complexity of the story with grace and nuance.

The Girl’s House is a deftly produced examination of guilt and obligation set in a culture in flux.

The Girl’s House is showing in Australia by invitation of the Persian Film Festival. Go to the website to discover screening times and cities.