Torn Apart

A family is caught between cultures in Maryam

Maryam Armin (Mariam Parris), a beautiful 16-year-old Iranian-born transplant so out of touch with her roots she prefers to be called Mary, has goo-goo eyes for a dim-bulb blond boy and dreams of becoming a newscaster--Jessica Savitch, actually. It's November 1979, and Mary's cousin, college student Ali (David Ackert), has come from Iran to stay with Mary's family in suburban New Jersey, bringing with him an anti-Shah, pro-Ayatollah Khomeini sentiment--which renders the entire Armin household pariahs among flag-waving Americans who, after hostages are taken at the U.S. embassy in Teheran, demand the bombing of Iran. The Armins are torn (and torn apart) by their own neighbors' newfound racism, Ali's devotion to Islam and the ayatollah and Dr. Armin's long-buried secret that involves the death of his own brother when the whole family lived in Iran. It's a shame this movie's been sitting without distribution for two years, and it would be no less a tragedy if it were viewed solely through post-September 11 eyes; it's a wise and powerful tale of race and culture forcefully told, with superb performances throughout.

 
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