How I wish I had stuck to my resolution to avoid watching Hollywood films and stick to my own mystery murder serials! Instead, I endured two hours and six minutes of pure agony last night: I am, of course, referring to the horrible horrible “The House of Sand and Fog”. No immigrant dreaming of a brighter future in a faraway land should watch this film.
Not being deaf and blind, I had of course heard of the film back in Iran, when the nomination of Shohreh Aghdashloo through everyone into a tizzy. I didn’t even know who the lead actors were, or what the plot was about. When I stumbled across the DVD, my curiosity was mildly piqued- and I liked both Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connolley, so I took it.
Being Iranian, I naturally rooted for the Iranian colonel, and watched with pain as his attempts to rebuild the life of his family in exile fall to horrible bits. Yet, I am of the social background who are naturally antipathetic to the colonel and ilk- we do not think much of high-ranking monarchic military officers, who would be excluded from international protection through any decent non-American refugee status determination system. It is almost impossible to think his hands were not stained with blood. And yet, and yet.
As for the woman, Jennifer Connolley was a bad choice- her face is too strong and sensitive to play that part, and she looked too much like her enemy Iranians (albeit with a nose job)- she should have been played by a white-trash grimy blonde such as Melanie Griffith or Sandra Bullock in a blonde wig. Anyway, how realistic was the whole plot? Is it really so easy to evict and resell someone`s property for a 500 dollar debt?
Thinking about it the next day, I felt almost angry that the immigration issue and culture thing had been thrown in the mixture: it could have been about any family man out to make a buck in buying cheap real estate, renovating and selling high. The Iranian refugee theme could be seen as wholly unneccessary.
What`s more, Iranians have a horror of buying seized or `ghasbi` land- land which the previous owner was not one hundred percent satisfied in the deal. When someone wants to buy a house in Iran, there is some effort put into verifying the land is not `seized` or ghasbi. A `real` Iranian family would have moved out of the house as soon as it became obvious the land was seized- the fact that they didn`t shows they were evil monsters who deserved their horrible fates – only except of course they weren`t. They were really Americans, who have a world-wide reputation for doing this sort of thing, seizing land and casual dispossession, pretending to be Iranians.
Last year a rumour started circulating around Tehran that a populous middle-class neighbourhood not too far from city centre (Gisha) was in fact seized and `ghasbi`. The value of all the properties in that area fell substantially, although there were counter-rumours that the original rumour was just a conspiracy to tinker with the land prices and push the prices of neighbouring areas higher.
In short, I didn`t like the film; I found the characters and plotline manipulative and unbelievable, and as an immigrant with dreams of my own, dreadfully despressing.