Movie review: 'Bab'Aziz' a long contemplation

  • Article by: PETER SCHILLING , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 11, 2008 - 5:01 PM

It is neither engaging nor enlightening. Islam is better served elsewhere.

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typecast films BabAziz (Parviz Shahinkhou) and his granddaughter Ishtar (Maryam Hamid) in "Babn'aziz"

2 out of 4 stars

Theater: Uptown.

Although it is but 96 minutes long, "Bab'Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul" feels very long. I fully expected it to be slow, self-reflective, and beautiful. After all, it is shot in the Iranian and Tunisian deserts, with golden sunsets and long-distance shots of the main characters walking in the dunes as if on some distant planet.

But these gorgeous desert shots are few, and the pedantic lighting of the interior scenes give it the look of a TV show. And its tales and legends are dull and poorly written.

The story, such as it is, concerns one Bab'Aziz (Parviz Shahinkhou) walking to a gathering of Sufi wanderers, accompanied by his granddaughter Ishtar (played by the insufferable Maryam Hamid, one of many uneven actors in this film). Along the way, they meet quite a few others, men who are seeking elusive women or on a journey of discovery. Only one of these is truly engaging.

Although director Nacer Khemir sought to give "Islam its real image back" with "Bab'Aziz" (quite a heady statement when you think about it), it is neither engaging nor enlightening. Islam is better served elsewhere.

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