Circumstance: Review


Release Date: August 26th, 2011 Writer/ Director: Maryam Keshavarz

Running Time: 1 Hour 46 Minutes Plot: Two female friends in love in Iran.

Review: I cannot give this movie a very fair review. There is too much that slipped by me upon watching it. My stupid rose lay dying beside me as I was watching the movie at 1 am on Netflix. What’s more is I was obviously restless given the time and the fact that the film froze for a solid 5 minutes during the last act damaged the film’s viewing experience. On top of all of this, I find foreign films tough to completely absorb. I often miss minute, but important details, and end up having to paint a more general impression of the picture. Despite all of this I find great praise in the fact that the film was still able to move me.

First of all, I find it very cool that a film such as this was able to be made; even though it never saw a wide release in North America, and even though it wasn’t actually able to be shot in Iran where the film’s setting takes place (Beirut, Lebanon for those who are curious). The fact that a film as eye-opening as this one, directed by a woman, about two female lovers, taking place in the conservative middle east was able to make it to my viewing channel is very impressive considering these are pretty major hurdles to climb.

There are several things that make this a good film. The performances all around are strong, particularly by the two leads (Nikohl Boosheri and Sarah Kazemy). There are some cool dynamic camera angles thrown in there wrapped around a relatively basic, easy to digest structure, and of course there’s the hot lesbian action! I really can’t get through this review without mentioning that because come on, it’s right there in the plot and middle-eastern women have a beauty that is beyond compare. That’s not the sole reason I enjoyed the film though or even the main reason. Simply put, this film is appropriately ambitious and really works its strengths. The only faults I will give this film are that it has an abrupt ending, and a lack of escalating tension. I kept waiting for all of these individually great scenes to converge in order to serve some overall catharsis, but that did not seem to be the authentic angle Maryam Keshavarz was working for, and with those great scenes I never found myself bored with the film.

If you notice, I’m being quite general with this review. It is because if it’s not clear by now, I think you should see it.

As a straight white North American male watching this movie, it might not seem like there is much for me to relate to. However, I found the youthful rebellion showcased in the film definitely to be a relatable jumping off point for me, and I felt nonetheless engaged as well as horrified, as I watched some of the abuses and human rights violations undergone by not just the women in the film but homosexuals as well.

This film is a real eye-opener towards Iranian culture, and the director’s choice to tell a unique emotional story at its core primarily, and serve secondary as a basis for political commentary, makes the film more enjoyable overall. I like to think I know a great film when I see one, and I was glad to able to enjoy it, regardless of the circumstances.



-3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3


  • Cool Trailer:
  • The mature relationship that Atafeh has with her father Azar in this movie is great to watch
  • Both the film and its director have been banned from the country by Iranian authorities
  • Wikipedia page for the film:
  • Completely unrelated: There are a lot of Persian, Lebanese and Iranian people here in Ottawa; I find a lot of them are engineers at the University of Ottawa
  • This film has an awesome soundtrack

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