'Colors Of Memory' honours Iran

LIZ BRAUN - Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:48 AM ET

Colors of Memory is a film about a doctor who returns home to Iran after having lived in Europe for 33 years. The film is both celebratory and heartbreaking, and works as a sort of love letter to the culture of Iran.

Dr. Parsa (Shahbaz Noshir) is an elegant man and a hugely successful heart surgeon living in Germany. His personal life appears to be a bit of a shambles, however, and at the beginning of the movie he is finalizing a divorce. He agrees to go to Tehran for the first time in decades to perform a tricky surgery; it cannot be co-incidental that the Iranian patient has a bullet close to his heart, a remnant of the last minute of the war between Iran and Iraq.

In Tehran, where he recognizes nothing, Dr. Parsa finds he has been assigned a cheeky young driver named Iraj (Saber Abar). The reserved doctor is initially put off -- Iraj uses his cellphone all the time, honks at women, carries alcohol and isn't particularly respectful. You could say he was quite Westernized. In time, Iraj's good humour and energy win the doctor over.

Dr. Parsa also encounters Quanati (Ezatollah Entezami) an old well digger and friend of Dr. Parsa's family. Quanati wants the doctor to travel back with him to their hometown, Bam, the city devastated by an earthquake in 2003. Dr. Parsa's family still has property and palm groves in Bam, and Quanati is one of several people who want to give him advice about that land. "I don't miss my father," says Dr. Parsa, "and I don't want his inheritance." Nothing like a trip home to change all that.

The trip to Bam changes the film itself. Colors Of Memory takes on a documentary-like air when the men travel to the city, driving past mile after mile of earthquake-devastated landscape. There's almost nothing left of Bam, with about 80% of all buildings destroyed in the earthquake. Even the historic citadel there was badly damaged, even though it survived plenty of other quakes during the 2,000 years since it was built.

In Bam, Dr. Parsa thinks of his childhood and visits the graveyard. There are symbol-laden sequences near the desert, as Quanati attempts to restore some old wells, and further travel as Dr. Parsa decides to search for a childhood sweetheart, recovering his own past in the process.

Colors of Memory is nostalgic for elements of the old Iran, and pays homage to the country and its people through the journey of Dr. Parsa. Expat Iranians who plan to see this movie are advised to bring tissues.

The film, which is in Farsi and German with English subtitles, is playing at the Empire Theatre at Empress Walk, 5095 Yonge Street.

(This film is rated PG)


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