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Originally published Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 3:05 PM

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‘Shirin in Love’: Visuals keep hokey rom-com afloat

A 1.5-star movie review of “Shirin in Love,” a predictable romantic comedy set in California about an Iranian expatriate (Nazanin Boniadi) fleeing an arranged marriage.


Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 1.5 stars

‘Shirin in Love,’ with Nazanin Boniadi, Riley Smith, Amy Madigan, Anahita Khalatbari. Written and directed by Ramin Niami. 104 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains some mild sexual content). Oak Tree.

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The screenplay in “Shirin in Love” is brimful of trite greeting-card sentimentality. The characters are cardboard thin and the performers’ line readings sound exactly like that — readings — as though the actors are reciting from cue cards they’re seeing for the first time as the cameras roll.

The picture’s sole saving grace? Its images are picture-postcard lovely. Gauzy sunsets. Misty hillsides. Stirring seascapes. Shots of a loving couple gazing raptly at the loveliness before them.

It’s enough to make you wish you could turn off the sound and just lapse into a soothing reverie as the visuals parade past your appreciative eyeballs. Too bad you can’t. Too bad you must endure dialogue that’s sappy and a story that’s drippy.

What’s particularly too bad is that there’s a kernel of an interesting situation trapped in the congealing treacle. That has to do with the experiences of Iranian expatriates living in Los Angeles. Producer-writer-director Ramin Niami and actress Nazanin Boniadi, who plays the title character, are themselves Iranian expats as are several other key members of the cast. Niami’s screenplay seeks to highlight difficulties experienced by Shirin, a sweet-natured scatterbrained beauty, and her family as they assimilate into Southern California culture.

Her pushy mother (Anahita Khalatbari), a wealthy lifestyle magazine editor living in Beverly Hills, is pushing her into a traditional arranged marriage with a rich expat plastic surgeon (Maz Jobrani). (The expats in this movie have assimilated very well.)

Shirin feels trapped by the demands of tradition. So she flees to Northern California to do a profile for her mother’s magazine on a reclusive novelist (Amy Madigan) who lives on the coast. The novelist has a hunky, soulful son (Riley Smith) who lives in a lighthouse with incredible views of the ocean. Mr. Soulful, meet Ms. Scatterbrain.

Sparks fly. Scenery is viewed. You can guess the rest.

In fact, you can easily guess every last hokey twist and turn of the story, so predictable are the situations in “Shirin.” There’s a fatal illness. A family secret. A big misunderstanding. You’ll feel you’ve seen it all before.

You have.

Soren Andersen: asoren7575@yahoo.com



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