No Hard Feelings ****
Starring: Benny Radjaipour, Benafshe Hourmazdi, Eidin Jalali
Director: Faraz Shariat
Parvis (Radjaipour) is a Millennial living in Hannover, the son of Iranian parents. After being caught shoplifting, his sentence of community service takes him to a refugee shelter where he meets brother and sister Amon (Jalali) and Banafshe (Hourmazdi), who have recently arrived from Iran. The three quickly spark up a friendship, but when the two boys’ relationship develops into something deeper, outside events begin to threaten their newfound happiness together.
This is a tremendously moving portrait about asylum, as well as a slick and modern contemplation on nationality and culture. Parvis is drawn to the siblings because of their shared roots, but they are escaping a society that oppressed them. Together, the trio represent the delicate equilibrium of immigration; respect for the country they have come to, affection for the land they have left behind, acknowledgement of the problems with both and an uneasy restlessness with having no identifiable home. Even Parvis, who was born and raised in Germany, feels just as stateless as his parents consider which country their future lies in.
Of course Parvis and Amon’s sexuality is a complicating factor, as well Banafshe’s new liberated life in Germany, but this is a film about much more than that. Personal identities both reflect and eschew national ones, with their feelings toward Iran more complex than just relief at having left it. No Hard Feelings captures this complexity of feeling with real sensitivity but audacious style.
With a booming electro soundtrack, a neon-drenched palate and chic urban costumes, this is not a naval-gazing film about self-pity and melancholic reflection on the past. These characters live firmly in their present, which embraces the opportunity of their new home, but holding firmly onto their origins. And this is all played out against delectably jarring editing and stylised affectation both behind and in front of the camera. Director Shariat has played a full hand of cinematic technique and the film is positively dripping with style as a result.
Above everything, this is a film about displacement and new beginnings. While the relationship between the two boys sits at the heart of the film, its explicitness is distracting at times and runs the risk of alienating rather than provoking. There are also moments of tension about race and sexuality, but these serve just as window dressing around the most contemporary film about immigration you’ll have ever seen.
UK RELEASE: 7TH DECEMBER 2020 ON DVD AND ON DEMAND, RELEASED BY TLA RELEASING.