The Day I Became a Woman | Chicago Reader

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This compelling collection of three loosely connected vignettes owes the hypnotic quality of its best moments to the quietly relentless direction of Marziyeh Meshkini. In the title story a reluctant little girl is told on her ninth birthday that she's now a woman and must wear the chador and no longer play with boys. What could easily become a somber take on the preordained condition of women in Iran unexpectedly turns into a sweet account of the girl's last hour of freedom. In the second and most striking segment—whose final image is heartbreaking—dozens of women swathed in black chadors are seen endlessly pedaling their bicycles along a road by the seashore. It seems that by riding her bike one of the women has dishonored her family, her tribe, her husband, and herself. In quick succession the offended husband, the village elders, and the woman's brothers come riding their horses alongside the road, angrily asking her to cease and desist, but she stubbornly pedals on, never uttering a word. The third segment, about a poor old woman who comes into some money and goes on a buying spree, is more conventionally whimsical, but it ends engagingly. Two of the female cyclists and the nine-year-old reappear at the end, as if to underscore that the film is a tribute to the resilience of women. 80 min. (Jean-Pierre Coursodon)

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