City Paper is not for tourists
You know how these stories go: Circumstance collides a good-hearted social outcast and a good-hearted social conservative, they clash, they hesitantly bond, and finally they sympathize with and rescue each other. That’s the first mark against Facing Mirrors, Negar Azarbayjani’s drama that places Eddie, a well-off, pre-op trans man on the run from his draconian father, in the taxi cab of the traditional Rana, whose husband cannot drive the car because he’s serving a term in debtor’s prison. And there are a frustrating number of places this rather restrained drama is not willing to go: for example, into the quite large, government-subsidized trans culture of Iran, as well as the very real dangers that queers face in a country whose president denies the existence of Iranian gays. And yet, you should probably see this movie. As it happens, Facing Mirrors unfolds rather more like a play than a work of filmic realism, with the action pausing frequently so that one character can engage another in what amounts to an ongoing dialectic on transsexuality in a repressive society. That might be strike No. 3 but for Qazal Shakeri’s scared, then warm, performance as Rana and Shayesteh Irani’s brave, then terrified, turn as Eddie. Lots of humanistic stories strike familiar chords; in the end, it’s all in the telling.