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SUN CHILDREN gets 8.5/10 A bright light in a dark place


Directed by Majid Majidi
Starring Rouhollah Zamani, Mahdi Mousavi, Shamila Shirzad, Abolfazi Shirzad

8.5/10

A treasure hunt taking place under a school is what propels the excitement, the intensity, and ultimately the sadness of this thrilling new Iranian film. Sun Children is a bustling film, filled with characters, both adult and pubescent, fighting and clashing with each other, most of them confident enough to let their intentions known to others (or at least confidently lying about their intentions).

In the gruelling workplace for indentured children, 12 year old Ali (Rouhollah Zamani) is contracted to find some hidden treasure underneath a school. But he must first swindle his way into the school, which is free to enrol in, though he must prove he is both smart enough and impoverished enough to be accepted in. Once in (with his gang of pals), they have to be extremely careful and sneaky when they go about their digging for this treasure, as to not alert the teachers or other students – but a demonstration at the school may just make it easier for them.

Sun Children is able to excel at two different sub-genres: the treasure hunt thriller, which is portrayed as very earthy and particularly claustrophobic, and the knock-about school comedy, where fights (between kids, and parents) can erupt at times and the teachers are exasperated by their bad behaviour.

It’s intelligently and handsomely filmed, with its on-the-streets filming completely busy with the bustling Iranian life of these hard streets. And the scenes of the children trying to dig their way further and further puts you right into their perspective, up close with the hard barriers and the tight passageways (that only a child could crawl through).

It’s remarkable to see how unfrightened the kids are by the prospect of anything caving in on them, though chalk it up to a child-like bravery where certain dangers aren’t considered. The kids seem downright excited by the whole adventure, and the ensuing riches that will come their way after all this, though the ending brings a cruel reality that hits both the children and the audience hard.

Coming from acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi (Children of Paradise), Sun Children could be held in high regard in his already strong filmography. This is a film that seems to never take a misstep, even though it’s so busy and brimming with life. Held together by fantastic performances from all, Sun Children is a rare kind of film that can seem so vibrant at times, yet so despondent at other times, and it handles these dual feelings so expertly.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

Sun Children plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, February 22 to Sunday, February 28. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au

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