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Critic's Pick

'The White Balloon'

September 06, 1998|Kenneth Turan

This 1995 Iranian film offers a completely charming, unhurried slice of life. It is both slow and sure-handed as it follows a small but fearsomely determined little girl on her amusing search for just the right ceremonial goldfish for her family's new year's celebration. Director Jafar Panahi has not only done his film in real time, the hour and a half before the new year begins in modern Teheran but also has cast nonprofessionals in the key roles. Panahi made the ideal connection when he cast Aida Mohammadkhani (pictured) as 7-year-old Razieh, the tiny terror with goldfish on her mind. Stubborn, suspicious, with the long face of a major league sulker, Razieh is no perky Shirley Temple, but her comical persistence in the face of endless obstacles is continually entertaining. By putting itself in sync with the rhythms of everyday life, it offers a reminder that the simplest forms of filmmaking can be the most satisfying (Bravo Monday at 5 p.m.; 11:05 p.m. and Tuesday at 1 p.m.).

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