Directors’ Showcase / UK premiere

The Song of Sparrows

  • Majid Majidi /
  • Iran /
  • 2008 /
  • 96 mins

Reza Naji, Maryam Akbari, Kamran Dehghan, Hamed Aghazi

A delightful comedy from Iranian legend Majid Majidi.

?Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that really count. That’s the message of Majid Majidi’s The Song of Sparrows, an utterly beguiling, life-affirming parable that celebrates the value of family and friendship over the dazzling distractions of consumerism. When middle-aged Karim (Reza Najie) loses his job on an ostrich farm after letting one of the valuable flock escape, he worries about how to support his large family – especially after his young daughter loses her expensive hearing-aid. But on a visit to Tehran Karim lucks out on a job as a taxi driver, ferrying businessmen around on his ageing moped. Plus, there’s plenty of junk – front doors, TV aerials, car tyres – that the careless city-dwellers have discarded for the enterprising Karim to take back to his village to hoard. Increasingly preoccupied with money-making schemes – a concern mirrored by a hare-brained plan of his son’s to breed pet fish – Karim soon loses sight of more immediate family priorities. A film of feathery charms and effortless grace notes, The Song of Sparrows mixes domestic farce and rural melodrama with well-observed slices of city life: you’d be surprised how many bits of scrap Karim can load onto his moped from the bustling street scenes here. Majidi’s last film, The Willow Tree, portrayed the mixed blessings of a blind man regaining his sight, but this new film is a more innocent celebration of seeing familiar things with fresh eyes. From natural occurrences like the sparrows that occupy an abandoned outbuilding to small domestic details like the shirt button that Karim (in a moment of teasing eroticism) gives to his wife, Majidi imbues everyday objects with a joyous, ineffable poetry. And if, in the quietly devout figure of Karim, the film echoes the spiritual concerns of Majidi’s other work, there’s nothing solemn about it. Abounding with sight gags and droll humour, the movie features a performance of clownish physicality by the superb Naji.

2008 Archive

Image from The Song of Sparrows

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