I had never heard of Color of Love (Rang-e Eshgh) until, one night at the video store, my mom reached past my shoulder, picked up a DVD from the shelf, and said, “Look! This looks like it’s from Iran.”
I looked at the cover: three Iranian girls blowing big pink bubbles with their gum, standing in front of a propagandist mural. The cover didn’t awe me, as this idea has been overused in photographing Iran: Place a fashionably dressed young person in front of a larger-than-life portrait of Khomeini, and voila, you’ve “captured” an “ironic” shot. In fact, I think I’ve come to associate that style of composition with a certain political agenda.
Still, I brought the DVD home and watched the hour-long documentary. To my delight, it turned out an offbeat film that simply didn’t get caught up in the current Western media trend of playing up the perceived misery of Iranian life. Even better is the fact that Color of Love is filmed entirely in the city of Shiraz, rather than in the overrepresented Tehran.
In the film, Maryam Keshavarz, the director, visits the homes of several Shirazi families (we later learn they’re members of her extended family) on a quest to find out what love means in contemporary Iran. Keshavarz chose the day of Ashura to shoot her documentary and subtly hints at the relatively secular nature of its mourning rituals – rituals whose footage is often shown on TV to depict religious extremism.
Color of Love may not answer the questions it sets out with, but for the most part it has a delicious, heartwarming effect that makes you want to see more of its characters. After watching the deleted scenes on the special features, I was surprised that a scene which takes place in a tea house- in my opinion, the most telling footage about love in Iran – was not included in the film. Perhaps my biggest concern was that Persian text in the film had quite a few spelling errors, all of which an Iranian third grader could have caught. I understand if Keshavarz decidedly left in the misspellings to make Color of Love seem more personal and human. However, if that’s not the case, the carelessness was rather irritating. (Well, at least to me it is!)
Nevertheless, I’m glad my mom noticed this film amid all the apocalypse flicks, and kudos to Maryam Keshavarz for this lovely journey to the heart of Shiraz.
[Image: Marakesh Films]