Here is my review of this film published in Take One magazine:-
Iranian cinema has given us so many great films – including those made by Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Jafar Panahi, and last year’s fantastic A SEPARATION by Asghar Farhadi – that expectations are always raised when you come across another Iranian contribution. Thankfully, Seyyed Reza Mir-Karimi’s finely crafted A CUBE OF SUGAR can stand proudly in such illustrious company.
The basic framework of the story is very simple – an extended Iranian family gather in preparation for a family wedding. Within this structure, however, there is a tightly interwoven network of individual stories. The plot is so carefully constructed, and the characters so well portrayed, that the mini dramas played out in this family gathering are enthralling. The film deftly interweaves many storylines, while taking the time to observe those tiny but emotionally momentous incidents – a silent exchange between an old married couple; an excited child finding that he has grown slightly taller; the patriarch of the family telling a child an enchanting story.
Particularly striking is the cinematography of Hamid Khozui-Abyaneh. The whole film is suffused in a warm, golden hue; the hand-held camera expertly weaves and glides, criss-crosses the rooms of the family home in its carefully choreographed observation of the unfolding stories. Then there are the magical interludes where we are invited to step out of time and immerse ourselves in the vivid sensations of the moment. One such scene stands out – where the bride-to-be, on a swing, sweeps gently through the air, repeatedly reaching for an apple: this becomes a moment of exquisite sensuality, like an Impressionist painting brought to life.
As with A SEPARATION, this film gives us a view of everyday life in modern Iran that is vastly different to that conjured up by television news reports. In A CUBE OF SUGAR you get to see a more humane and rounded view of this society. It provides a vivid and moving portrait of family life – the humour and infectious laughter, the troubled relationships, the moments of tenderness and contemplation, sadness and loss. Like all good cinema, it is both universal and particular – a delightful, engaging, and insightful film.