Now living in Canadian exile, Afghan journalist Nafas returns to her country's border with Iran after receiving a letter from her younger sister, who warns that she intends to commit suicide during an imminent eclipse of the sun. Nafas tries to reach the girl in Kandahar, but en route repeatedly encounters obstacles: the fear, wariness and dishonesty of those she asks to escort her, poverty and illness, the threat of landmines, the Taliban oppression of women. Makhmalbaf's film is characteristically jam-packed with metaphors and striking visual epiphanies - artificial legs being parachuted into the desert are even used twice! - and certainly packs some sort of visceral punch as it depicts the harsh realities of life in Afghanistan. But there are also enough clumsy or obvious moments, uncertainties of tone and brazenly rhetorical flourishes to seed doubts about just how heartfelt it all is. Moreover, by attacking the Taliban regime so fiercely, is Makhmalbaf serving as an apologist for, say, the treatment of women in Iran, or implicitly criticising certain aspects of his own country as well? As so often with his work, it's hard to know for sure.
Cast and crew