The Color of Paradise

I didn't know much about this film when I went to see it, and I'm glad I didn't, so I won't reveal much of the story here. Suffice it to say that it concerns a blind eight-year-old boy (Mohsen Ramezani) whose happiness, generosity, and warmth endear him to everyone he meets – except for his sad, widowed father (Hossein Mahjoub), who is deeply ashamed of his son's blindness and would rather do without him.

The Color of Paradise has got to be the most visually exquisite movie I have seen in a long, long time. Majidi, who of the exciting new wave of Iranian filmmakers is probably the most accessible to Western audiences (his last film, Children of Heaven, was nominated for an Oscar), sets his story in the surprisingly lush and colorful northern Iranian countryside; those expecting endless desert will be in for a surprise, as will anybody who assumes that Iranians are somehow incapable of love, joy, kindness, wisdom, or grace.

An emotional stunner, with a truly heartbreaking performance by the talented young Ramezani – clearly blind in real life and thus acting with a total lack of self-consciousness – The Color of Paradise is a special film. It's a shame to think that most American audiences will automatically avoid movies like this while continuing to spend hard-earned money on obvious ripoffs like Mission to Mars, but those brave enough to make it to their local art house cinema to catch this are in for a deeply moving experience.