PFS Film Review
The Girl in the Sneakers


When are the dreams of children shattered by the realities of adulthood? Based on a true story, The Girl in the Sneakers (Dokhtari ba kafsh-haye-katani ) focuses on how two fifteen-year-olds grow up within a week due to personal traumas in Iran. Rassul Sadr Ameli, the director, makes the film in the hope that the story will be of help "in dealing with the subjective preoccupations of a number of the young people." When the movie begins, a girl Tadaei and a boy Aideen (played by Pegah Ahangarani and Majid Hajizadeh) are walking together in a park in Tehran; they first met in the park some ten days ago, and this is their third or fourth date. Aideen's dream is to travel around the world forever with a companion; Tadaei, who appears not to accept his fantasy, is clearly fascinated by the scenario. But soon they are stopped by park police, taken to the police station for questioning, and criminal prosecution against Aideen is likely if Tadaei turns out to be pregnant. Since she is a virgin, charges are dropped. Parents then bawl them out. Aideen, as he later reports, goes to a relative’s villa, and he learns about the responsibilities of life during the excursion. Tadaei, however, is heartbroken. She refuses to eat; rather than going to school, she wanders around Tehran in white sneakers, trying to reach Aideen by telephone at numerous intervals. Her journey is a window into life in Tehran some twenty years after the Islamic Revolution. Most men turn out to be untrustworthy, but the women try to be helpful. Her first encounter is with a man who wants to have sex with her, but he is unable to take advantage of her naïveté because his wife is unexpectedly present at home. On a bus, Tadaei pretends that she has leukemia, prompting female passengers to make all sorts of comments and suggestions, including the aphorism, "There’s not much to life." Denied a hotel room because she is too young, Tadaei orders ice cream and a coke from the waiter in the hotel lobby; his rudeness, however, provokes a momentary dream in which she retaliates by hitting him over the head a the coke bottle and pushing him through the hotel window. Next, she buys a chocolate bar from a street urchin, who introduces Tadaei to his "mother," and in due course the mother puts her up for the night in a shantytown hovel. When Tadaei emerges from the hovel in the middle of the night, she is nearly raped, but the mother comes to her aid, and eventually Tadaei returns to the park at midnight. Aideen then appears, tells her that his dreams have changed but not his love for her, and Tadaei returns home at last. To an non-Iranian filmviewer observer, the wandering will appear to be a metaphor for contemporary Iran. Paternalistic restrictions on personal liberty have not changed the basic decency of Iranian women, who in the movie have much better control over their husbands than the clerics. Meanwhile, the revolution has done little to change a class structure in which the rich live in one world, the poor in another. MH

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