The Movie Waffler Glasgow Film Festival 2022 Review - ASTEROID | The Movie Waffler

Glasgow Film Festival 2022 Review - ASTEROID

asteroid review
A young boy works a variety of jobs to support his family.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Mehdi Hosseinivand Aalipour

Starring: Ebrahim Zarozehi, Ghazal Shojaie, Hadi Kazemi

asteroid poster

American media loves to report stories about kids selling home made lemonade and such in order to raise money so they or their family members can pay for a life-saving operation. There are two ways to view such stories. You can either be inspired by the moxie of the kids in question or you can be disgusted by a society that forces them into such a scenario. Shot with an objective distance, Mehdi Hoseinivand Aalipour’s debut feature Asteroid often feels like one of those stories, allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusions as to whether it's an inspiring film or one critical of the society it plays out in.

asteroid review

Ebrahim Zarozehi, who looks like a shrunken young Dustin Hoffman, is certainly charismatic as 12-year-old Ebrahim, who lives in hardship but is fuelled by an entrepreneurial zest. With his father and older brother having disappeared in ambiguous circumstances, Ebrahim is the man of his house, which he shares with his mother and various younger siblings.

asteroid review

The house is kept largely afloat by the wages earned by Ebrahim through a variety of jobs. Ebrahim goes through more occupations here than Frank Spencer in an entire season of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. When we meet him first he's shaking dates from a tree. His caution in ensuring he doesn't knock a pair of chicks from their nest while his foreman roars at him from below tells us that while Ebrahim has entrepreneurial ambitions, he's not willing to disrupt any lives to achieve his goals. He's a hard worker, but he's working to live, and so his family can live. When he's not engaged in work for others he's helping build a new home for his family.

Even when he's being castigated by various employers, none of whom see the irony of hiring a child and then moaning about his standard of work, Ebrahim keeps a smile on his face. It's almost exhausting just watching him work, but he never complains, though he does occasionally have a smart retort for his elder bosses. It's all character building, but should a child have to build character at such a young age? Of course not.

asteroid review

It takes the surprise arrival of a stranger, a pilot who emergency lands his small plane in Ebrahim's village, for Ebrahim to have an encounter with an adult who views him as a child rather than a worker. As Ebrahim and his brothers and sisters sit in the cockpit and pretend to fly, it's a moment of joy but also a sad reminder that this is probably the closest they'll get to escaping the poverty they live in. But is this a world Ebrahim should want to escape from? Few of us would wish it for our own children, but for Ebrahim it all seems a big adventure. Is ignorance bliss or has Ebrahim found a happiness that eludes many of us? These are questions Aalipour’s often frustrating ambiguity will force its audience to ask.

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