Forbidden Love Faces Religious Oppression - "I'm Taraneh, 15" Review

By Dana Stevens The New York Times

In "I'm Taraneh, 15," Taraneh (Taraneh Alidousti) is a model 15-year-old Iranian girl, studious and filial, who supports her ailing grandmother with a job at a photo shop and visits her father (who has been imprisoned for reasons never made clear in the film) bearing gifts of cigarettes and magazines. In school, she wins a book bag for "skill at managing her life."

But when Amir (Milad Sadr-Ameli, the son of the director, Rassul Sadr Ameli, in his first role), a young man from a well-off family, sets his sights on Taraneh and courts her with an intensity that borders on stalking, her well-ordered life spirals into chaos.

Amir's family, deciding the couple is too young to get married, agrees to only a temporary "certificate of religious intimacy" - a legal state which, though poorly explained by the subtitles, seems to imply conjugal rights with none of the responsibilities. Before she knows it, Taraneh is pregnant, Amir is on his way to Germany and his family is contesting the paternity of the child. Against the advice of everyone she knows, Taraneh makes the difficult and socially stigmatized decision to bear and rear her baby alone.

The director's last film, "The Girl in the Sneakers" (1999), told a similar story of forbidden young love amid the intolerance and oppression of religious rule in Iran. Like that film, "I'm Taraneh, 15" neither approves of nor condemns the choices made by its headstrong protagonist; rather, it quietly observes her transformation from naive schoolgirl to wary but proud single mother.

Originally Published January 6, 2006



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