Desert Dancer

First Hit:  Poignant in time, a bit melodramatic, but overall a beautiful story.

Based on a true story of Afshin Ghaffarian (Reece Ritchie) an Iranian young man that wants to dance.

Dancing is illegal in Iran and the morality police will beat and jail you if you are caught. He goes to school at a school called “Saba” the one place he can be creative along with his fellow students. Upon going to the University in Tehran he joins up with others who defy the government. They start a small dance company and he’s also joined by Elaheh (Freida Pinto) whose mother was a dancer before the revolution. Her mother never danced again and numbed herself with drugs just as her daughter is doing.

The scenes of the students and the general public marching in support of a challenger to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,  were intensely palpable. Watching the protests of a rigged election was even more important in that this was what happened. Afshin gets caught in one of these protests, is identified as a dancer and during a beating becomes an escaped fugitive.

Ending up in Paris, he makes his mark and stands up for himself. The best scenes in the film are Elaheh’s routine when she first encounters the dance group’s makeshift studio, the desert performance, and Afshin’s Paris performance.

Ritchie was very good at times and at others seemed too western in behaviors and feel to have been born and raised in Iran. Pinto was really strong and I felt her performance was the best of the group. Her sadness of her life felt very real. Makram Khoury as Mehdi his teacher at Saba school was excellent. Jon Croker wrote a good screenplay. Richard Raymond did a good job of creating some of the intenseness of the time in Iran and some of the shots in their practice studio were very effective.

Overall:  Although this isn’t a great film, it is a wonderful story.