A Man Who Ate His Cherries -- Film Review

Benjamin Walker
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NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13:  Actor Benjamin Walker attends the "Bloody Bloody Jackson" opening night after party at Brasserie 8 1/2 on October 13, 2010 in New York City.

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BUSAN, South Korea -- A man with alimony troubles is at the center of "A Man Who Ate His Cherries," a beautifully shot film that's appealing in its ordinariness. Reminiscent of "A Light in the Fog" because of its black and white cinematography and focus on the mundane, the same distributors and festivals could likely show an interest here. There's an enormous difference in the two films' thematically, however, that may bode well for "Cherries."

Reza (Hassan Pourshirazi) is a factory worker who goes home one night to discover his wife Zari has packed up and left him. His inability to have children has finally become too much for her. Soon enough he's served with divorce papers and demands for her dowry -- what the rest of us would call alimony. Zari plans on buying a house, and is willing to deal: 25 million tomans cash, and she'll drop the rest. While Reza is trying to find a way to finance his wife's move up the standard of living scale, a colleague that lost two fingers in an industrial accident returns to work, announcing that he received a respectable payout from the company.

"Cherries" is surprisingly free of politics (other than the matrimonial kind) and has an accessible tone that separates it from much Iranian cinema. Reza's domestic angst, common in so many homes around the world, gives the film a sense of universality that is recognizable anywhere. The bland, urban Tehran that Zari strikes out in on her own is not too different from any other city despite what we see in the media, and her difficulty navigating it has been experienced by women in countless cities.

It's clear things are heading for disaster of some sort when the fingerless co-worker reappears. By that point Reza has reached desperate levels, and it doesn't take an Andre Bazin scholar to figure out where the film is going. Pourshirazi is suitably low-key as the frazzled Reza, going about his search for a way to support his wife with a deliberate but anxious calm. "Cherries" holds no stunning revelations or heretofore-unknown truths, but it's a nice reminder that average Iranians suffer the same miseries as the rest of us.

Venue: Pusan International Film Festival -- New Currents
Sales: Sherherazad Media International
Production company: Sherherazad Media International
Cast: Hassan Pourshirazi, Asha Mehrabi, Reza Afshar, Maryam Khodarahmi
Director: Payman Haghani
Screenwriter: Payman Haghani, Hamid-Reza Keshani
Producer: Amir Samavati
Executive producer: Reza Mehranfar
Director of Photography: Farshad Mohammadi
Editor: Behrang Sanjabi
No rating, 77 minutes