Shirin in Love: Film Review
A young Iranian-American woman struggles with conflicting desires in Ramin Niami's romantic comedy
A blandly generic romantic comedy mainly notable for its largely centering on Iranian-American characters, Shirin in Love demonstrates that clichés cross all ethnic boundaries.
Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland) plays the titular character, who works as a book critic for a glossy magazine run by her overbearing mother Maryam (Anita Khalatbari). Although she’s not exactly the victim of an arranged marriage, it’s clear that Shirin--whose would-be endearing traits include not being able to drive without running afoul of the law and an inability to hold her liquor-is not in love with the successful Iranian plastic surgeon (Maz Jobrani) to whom she’s long been engaged.
In typical cutesy romantic comedy fashion, Shirin meets the handsome William (Riley Smith) when he takes her home and puts her to bed after she drinks herself into a stupor at a party. And in even more cutesy fashion, she runs into him again when she travels to northern California to interview a reclusive celebrated author (Amy Madigan) for a story. It turns out that William happens to be the author’s son, who lives in a nearby lighthouse to keep an eye out for his fisherman father who disappeared at sea years earlier.
Sparks quickly fly between the two, much to the dismay of Maryam, who isn’t above lying to prevent her daughter from not going through with her marriage. Further ensues when Shirin discovers a secret involving William and his mother that Maryam reveals in a magazine story under her daughter’s byline.
Will Shirin defy her heritage and her mother’s wishes to pursue her true love? This is the less than burning issue of the film written and directed by Ramin Niami which culminates in a would-be suspenseful finale in which its heroine reluctantly prepares to walk down the aisle with the wrong man.
Despite the frequent doses of ethnic flavor and slights nods towards culture clash themes, the film mostly traffics in the sort of familiar conventions littering endless rom-coms. It doesn’t help that the characters are either bland (the two leads) or stereotypical (the scheming mother) and that the performances, with the exception of an amusing George Wallace as the traffic cop who stops Shirin so often that they’re on a first name basis, are unmemorable. By the end of the film, we’re well aware that Shirin is in love, but we’ve long since ceased to care.
Opens March 14 (Sideshow Releasing)
Cast: Nazanin Boniadi, Riley Smith, Amy Madigan, Maz Jobrani, George Wallace, Anita Khalatbari, Marshall Manesh
Director/screenwriter: Ramin Niami
Producers: Ramin Niami, Karen Robson
Executive producers: Maz Jobrani, Ray Moheet, Nick Soper Arghavan
Director of photography: Garrett Shannon
Editors: Fritz Feick, Ramin Niami
Production designer: Lisa Clark
Costume designer: Lisa Norcia
Composer: Alex Kovacs
Not rated, 104 min.