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Film with heart in right place: ‘Sun Children’

Majid Majidi’s ‘Sun Children’ grabs attention of critics across the world.

Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi’s ‘Sun Children’ has drawn the attention of prominent critics across the world after its screening at the Venice International Film Festival, which is underway in Italy.

Screendaily, the online home of the British film magazine Screen International, said ‘Sun Children’ (aka ‘The Sun’) is another “empathetic film” crafted by Majidi about poor but resourceful city kids.

It described ‘Sun Children’ as “a film that has its heart firmly in the right place”, praising the movie’s “warm” cinematography and “lush orchestral” soundtrack.

“If in the end the lesson dealt by its ‘surprise’ ending feels like it comes from the pulpit, that doesn’t dismantle or entirely devalue the appeal of a film that has its heart firmly in the right place.”

In a caption featured at the beginning of the film, Majidi dedicated the movie to the 152 million children who have been forced into child labor across the world.  

The film is about a 12-year-old boy and his three friends, who have been asked by a neighborhood crime boss to find a treasure buried underground.

Nicholas Barber said in an article on IndieWire that ‘Sun Children’ is “quite the thrill ride, mixing a Dickensian, social-realist account of children in poverty in Tehran with a kinetic, far-fetched heist movie and a well-meaning drama about a kindly teacher who would, in a 1980s American film, have been played by Robin Williams.”

Referring to Majidi’s ‘Children of Heaven’, the first Iranian film to be nominated for an Oscar in 1999, Barber said ‘Sun Children’ could have a similar crossover appeal.

He also referred to many subplots which were “crammed” into the 99-minute ‘Sun Children’, noting that Majidi covered so many related issues “with tremendous, crowd-pleasing skill”.

Barber, however, noted that certain incidents were “dispensed with so abruptly that viewers won’t be sure what happened, so the film can feel over-edited. And certain characters aren’t given time to develop past sentimental stereotypes.”

Barber’s remarks come as media reports announced that Majidi’s film was cut by about 20 minutes from its original length of 120 minutes for its release in Venice.

Meanwhile, the film reminded the senior film critic, Peter Debruge, of ‘The Florida Project’, “one of the best films about children of the 21st century”, which “takes place within a stone’s throw of Walt Disney World, where it seems a dream too much for its neglected kid characters to visit until, in the film’s last scene, they enter the park.”

‘Sun Children’ presents “this scenario in reverse”, he said in an article published on Variety.

“His kids compel and entertain as the girls in ‘The Florida Project’ did, and while a simpler story might have done the trick, this one seems more likely to capture the public’s attention.”

‘Sun Children’, starring Mohammad-Javad Ezzati, Ali Nasiriyan and Tannaz Tabatabaee, is one of the films presented at the competition of this year’s Venice International Film Festival.

The 77th edition of the event opened on September 2 and will run until Saturday.