Love finds you when you least expect it in Sara Zandieh’s hilarious feature debut, A Simple Wedding, inspired by Hafez, Persia’s celebrated 14th century poet known for his lyrical writings about the joys of wine and romance.
Intelligent, lively, 30-something Nousha (Tara Grammy) does not want to get married and sabotages every arranged marriage her desperate mother (Shohreh Aghdashloo) proposes. At a feminist rights rally with her girlfriends, Nousha meets Alex (Christopher O’Shea), a free-spirited artist who’s funny, gentle, progressive, and unexpectedly sets her heart on fire. She finds herself quickly falling in love, although she’s convinced it will never work because he’s not Persian and he’ll never fit in with her traditional family. When her mother accidentally discovers her daughter’s new romance and living arrangements, a highly comedic cultural collision course is set in motion.
Zandieh directs from a well-crafted script she co-wrote with Stephanie Wu that melds romantic comedy with cultural conflict to reveal how love, tolerance, trust and understanding can transcend cultural differences, gender bending stereotypes, old grudges, and misguided assumptions about each other. The story takes a fun look at gender equality, female empowerment, and cross cultural conflict. While the plot points are sometimes predictable, the way in which they unfold is original, genuinely moving, and funny as the characters discover they share a lot more in common than they first realized.
The strong supporting cast includes Rita Wilson, Maz Jobrani, and Houshang Touzie. The film features excellent work by DP Ziv Berkovich, production designer Alexis Johnson, editor Annie Guidice, costumers Laura Francis and Emilie Pereira, and composer Nima Fakhrara.
A Simple Wedding is a confidently helmed, entertaining first feature. I look forward to seeing more of the talented Zandieh’s wonderful work in the future.