Haji (Assurbanipal Babila), a wealthy Iranian businessman, who has just arrived in Manhattan with his beautiful new wife Maryiam (Pouran Esrafily), is slowly adjusting to the fast-paced life in America. Unfortunately Haji's heart is full of sorrow and bitter memories about those that he has left behind. He is unable to cope with the pain. After a string of unfortunate events leaves Haji's wife a widow four of his true "friends" quickly move in offering to assist the brokenhearted beauty. But as it seems instead of help the four men have something quite different in mind…
Directed by Ghasem Ebrahiniam The Suitors is a film that explores the struggles of a group of Iranian immigrants who fall victim of their own prejudices about fate, religion, and family life. What truly amazes in this film, however, is the harsh self-criticism which Ebrahiniam delivers. His unmasked punches at religious freedom, female abuse, and of course the communal "laws" that bind immigrants together, make this film quite an interesting watch. It is indeed curious to follow up a story where an "insider" walks us into a community which quite frankly functions according to a set of rules many will have a difficult time understanding.
Perhaps the most impressive quality of The Suitors is the manner in which Ebrahinian's camera follows the actions of the main protagonists. There are plenty of awkward situations in this film, plenty of laughable moments, and a good amount of ridiculous "logic" which might leave the Western viewer scratching his/her head in disbelief. Certainly The Suitors is one of those films that serve as a litmus test for those wishing to explore the nature of immigrant life in America from an "insider's" point of view.
Despite the fact that The Suitors offers plenty of humor however the core of the film remains quite provocative. I liked the fact that none of the main characters were perfect and each one of them, including Maryiam, were dealt with by Ebrahinian with a great dose of suspicion. It just made this film so much more believable and at least as far as I am concerned the characters felt very, very real to me.
The Suitors was screened during the Directors' Fortnight Series at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988.
How Does the DVD Look?
I decided to write a rather short synopsis for this film and instead focus on the presentation which truly negates anything positive I might have had to say above. First of all let me begin with the fact that I have a great deal of respect for First Run Features, the company distributor, and their enormously diverse catalog of world cinema. They do indeed have a very aggressive policy of acquiring films that are often either neglected by mainstream studios or, let's just admit it, intentionally ignored. I do think however that First Run Features is the classic example of a company in dire need of a self-reevaluation. With other words I don't quite know how they expect anyone, let alone a knowledgeable film buff, to embrace the DVD release herein reviewed. Here's what I mean:
The Suitors is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 which I am going to assume is the original aspect ratio as the framing looks rather acceptable. The image quality however is simply disastrous. I am willing to accept that this was a film that was shot in manner that most likely does not allow much clarity of the print but just about everything as far as the image quality is concerned simply lacks the proper treatment a normal DVD release necessitates. There are a number of scratches, dirt, specks, haziness, and just about any major flaw you could think of...it is here. Quite frankly this DVD looks on par with some of the overused VHS tapes you could find in Target bins around the US (do they still sell VHS). In addition, we get forced, enormously big, English subtitles that simply destroy any desire one might have enduring this film. With other words something went terribly wrong with this DVD presentation.
How Does the DVD Sound?
The original Dolby Digital audio track for The Suitors is offered here which consists of both Farsi and English. Nothing spectacular indeed.
The only extra material that could be found on this DVD is a gallery of five Iranian films and their trailers available through First Run Pictures.
I found The Suitors to be quite a curious film to watch but it took me two days to complete the DVD herein reviewed. The presentation is so poor it is quite painful sitting through a film that at moments feels like it has survived a flooding or some other natural disaster…the print looks that bad! Skip it.