Contemplative throughout, Mehdi Hoseinvand Aalipour’s film Asteroid is a warm-hearted look at the efforts a young boy will make to endeavour his family to live the life they deserve. Make no mistake; this is a wonderful gem of a film.
12-year-old Ebrahim (Ebrahim Zarozehi) has become the breadwinner for his mother and five siblings. His joy lies in what he can do for his family. His dream is to start a garden and have his family live as safe and comfortable as possible.
Sometimes the simplest of storytelling is the most effective. We can enjoy our intricate pieces all day long, but with films like Asteroid, keeping its elements grounded simply allows it to work on its audience marvellously. You do not need a detailed backstory as to why these people are in the place they are in, they just are, and as such, you go along with it, following our subject as he relentlessly does his best for his family.
Little moments fill you with emotion; Ebrahim and his friend are sitting holding hands discussing their future. Of course, he wants to go off and do all of these amazing things in the world. Like any child, he has big aspirations, but Ebrahim has realised what is possible in this current climate and is far more pragmatic in his future. He knows what is achievable for him and tries to keep himself in check as a result.
We watch a young boy work from here to there, doing any job required of him in the most respectful manner possible. He is almost always positive and, in all regards, is acting emotionally and mentally as someone well above his years. He loves his family, and that is all that matters. So when he has opportunities to learn from those he works for, he grabs the chance. He is constantly watching and making mental notes of things as he works, a proverbial sponge; he wants to learn in case that allows him to earn more for his family or do something special for them, like making the pizza. His mother is cautious, but his self-assuredness astonishes you.
Asteroid firmly places the focus of its camera on our young lead, so much so that at times there are issues resolved or moved on in the film that we never discover because he never learns of what happened. Instead, he keeps moving forward, dedicated to reaching his goal for himself and his family, uncaring to what may have been the result of certain things. He is resolutely steadfast that the film echoes his tunnel vision, having no time or need to see how those moments were resolved as we want to see Ebrahim.
Davood Rahmani captures some fantastic moments with these young children, filming unobtrusively as we witness Ebrahim work hard and learn and see his family dynamic, which is possibly the best part of Asteroid. We see this young boy come home after being paid and enjoy seeing them all take the treats that he has gotten them. Only for us to cut to his mother lightly complaining about what he bought for everyone as she cannot cook with it, these are the scenes that enlighten you to why Ebrahim is doing what he is and working as hard as he is. No one else is going to help him and his family, so he must do so himself, and with Rahmani’s intimate cinematography, we can appreciate these scenes all the more.
Mehdi Hoseinivand Aalipour never betrays our trust with Asteroid. He could so easily take us down a melodramatic route or place his characters in anything that appears false. Instead, he ensures that everything we see is as true as it can be. He also has a lot of trust in his story. By keeping it as trim as Asteroid is, he must ensure that everything that we do see works on multiple levels. Happily, it does, thanks to everyone involved, and it allows Hoseinivand Aalipour to focus on keeping the tone right and staying true to itself. With a wonderful subject like Ebrahim, though, it would be unlikely he could do anything else but produce the film that he has here.
So, when we reach that scene with the family together smiling, you are smiling back at how honest it feels, and that is what you take away from this affectionate film. It never pretends to be something it is not, just like Ebrahim; he knows his role in this world at the moment, even for someone as young as he is. Yet, he has his priorities in place already, and he is a person we could all learn a little something from.
Asteroid will be shown during the Glasgow Film Festival in person on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6thMarch. For more information click here.
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