Marriage Iranian Style - "Zinat" Review

By Janet Maslin The New York Times

"Zinat" is a slow and earnest Iranian film about the dilemma faced by a health care worker contemplating marriage. With only minimal medical training, Zinat (Atefeh Razavi), called a "health visitor," is still the only person in her village who can help the sick. But her ability to do so is jeopardized once she becomes engaged to Hamed (Hassan Joharchi), who disapproves of his wife's working.

"Neither we are poor, nor Hamed is a man to expect contribution from his wife," Hamed's mother says. "Zinat" is poorly translated into English throughout, but its sentiments are so blunt and uncomplicated that language scarcely matters.

As written and directed by Ebrahim Mokhtari, who has made a number of documentaries for Iranian television, "Zinat" is better watched for its modest depiction of village life than for its central story. The acting is stilted and unsurprising, as Miss Razavi illustrates Zinat's troubled state of mind with a series of tearful, faraway gazes.

Even when both sets of parents begin trying to bend Zinat to their will and the people of the village join forces in protest, the film remains more awkward than involving. Sick children become the deus ex machina Mr. Mokhtari uses to resolve his story's crises. But its central debate about a working woman's conflicting obligations in contemporary Iran has more theoretical than dramatic interest.

Originally Published April 1, 1995

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