The Color of Paradise

on March 31, 2000 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
   There's a startling scene in "The Color of Paradise" in which a bitter man screams at his mother about how God has abandoned him and questions why he should follow a pious path. One would be hard-pressed to think of another Iranian film that has ever directly assailed religion--the Mullahs must be furious--but it's not surprising coming from the director of "Children of Heaven." That powerfully tough criticism of Iran's capitalist system showed that writer-director Majid Majidi may be the most hard-hitting of Iranian filmmakers. Unfortunately, he's also cinematically cruder than his talented colleagues and "The Color of Paradise," more than "Children of Heaven," suffers from his technical ineptitude. His tale of a bright blind boy (Mohsen Ramezani) and the father who no longer wants to care for him shares some of Francois Truffaut's attention to childhood detail. But it lacks lyricism and just jumps from one sloppy scene to another. Only its fine performances and fierce honesty save it from mediocrity.    Starring Mohsen Ramezani, Hossein Mahjub and Salime Feizi. Directed and written by Majid Majidi. Produced by Mehdi Karimi. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 95 min.
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