A SIMPLE WEDDING – Review by Leslie Combemale

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Let’s be honest. There’s really no such thing as a simple wedding. Writer/director Sara Zandieh drives this home in her new rom-com A Simple Wedding, starring the gorgeous and hilarious Tara Grammy. I love seeing films by women that center on women coming from or representing other cultures. It brings me such joy to see an American comedy about an Iranian-American woman, with Iranian co-stars. Even better is having an intergenerational story with three Iranian women, especially when one is learning to balance both American and Iranian cultures in her own life. A Simple Wedding is a wonderful peek into one Iranian family’s experience choosing to live with varying degrees of assimilation while celebrating their own cultural traditions.

Grammy plays Iranian-American Nousha Husseini, who suffers the pressures from her family many daughters feel: to marry, and marry well. When she meets and falls for quirky artist and DJ Alex (Christopher O’Shea), she worries her loving, very pushy mom (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and engineer dad (Houshang Touzie) will find him unworthy. Meanwhile, Alex has a complicated family that includes divorced parents, a dad (Peter Mackenzie) who left his wife for another man (James Eckhouse), and mom Maggie (Rita Wilson), who also who still smarts from rejection, and fears she’ll never find someone to love.

More colorful, charming complications happen when Nousha’s uncle Saman (Man Jobrani) comes for a visit. There is a wedding, as the name implies, but things get messy, as they often do. Co-stars Rebecca Henderson and Aleque Reid play happily-married couple Tessa and Lynne, best friends who support Nousha through the bizarre ritual that weddings almost universally become. Rounding out the cast is Jaleh Modjallal as Nousha’s beloved grandmother.

Zahdieh benefits from the luminocity and star-power of Oscar-nominated Aghdashloo as Nousha’s mom. There isn’t a sexier voice, male or female, in the whole world. The chemistry between her and Touzie is natural, given they are husband and wife in real life. In fact, the chemistry between all the characters is what drives the story, and keeps the audience connected to the outcome. They are all well-developed and likable, even if imperfect.

My experience with rom-coms in the last few years is that they are far more watchable when they include diverse stories. None of us need to see another bunch of vanilla-flavored (and colored) characters. The history of film is riddled with them. Kudos to Zandieh for bringing an entertaining, fun story, that also captures a loving, American family and blends cultures. Kudos to her, as well, for having so many women below the line working on the film.

4 out of 5 stars.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A Simple Wedding is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for February 7, 2020

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Leslie Combemale

Leslie Combemale writes as Cinema Siren on her own website, CinemaSiren.com, and is a frequent contributor to MPA's TheCredits.org, where she interviews filmmakers above and below the line, with a focus on women and diverse voices. She is the Senior Contributor at AWFJ.org. Leslie is in her 9th year as producer and moderator of the influential "Women Rocking Hollywood" panel at San Diego Comic-Con. She is a world-renowned expert on cinema art and her film art gallery, ArtInsights, located near DC, has celebrated cinema art and artists for 30 years.