Review: Sun Children – Khorshid (2020)

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Sun Children – Khorshid (2020)

Directed by: Majid Majidi | 99 minutes | drama | Actors: Ali Nassirian, Javad Ezati, Tannaz Tabatabaei, Roohollah Zamani, Mohammad Mahdi Mousavifar, Shamila Shirzad, Abolfazl Shirzad, Mani Ghafouri, Safar Mohammadi, Ali Ghabeshi, Babak Lotfi Khajepasha, Keyvan Beygi Vakili, Mohammadreza

The Iranian ‘Sun Children’ is about 12-year-old Ali (Roohollah Zamani). Because his father is in prison and his mother is in a nursing home, he is almost completely alone. Ali takes to the streets every day with his friends to earn money. One day, when Ali is entrusted with the secret of a hidden treasure underground, he enlists his mates and they set out to find it. There’s just one problem: To get close to the treasure, the friends must first register with the Sun School, a charitable organization that educates underprivileged children.
Despite the heavy themes – poverty, child labour, isolation – director Majid Majidi (‘Children of Heaven’, 1997, and ‘The Song of Sparrows’ 2008) delivers a pleasant, comfortable and above all lighthearted film. ‘Sun Children’ could easily have turned out to be a heavy drama, but instead his film is better described as an easily digestible adventure film. It is a film with a playful character. In the midst of all the misery there is always room for humor and lightheartedness.

As anyone can guess, the core of ‘Sun Children’ is not about the enigmatic treasure. In reality, the film is much more about the friendship between the children and the lessons they learn from their new learning environment. The lessons of the street do not apply to the solar school. Here they are confronted with completely different facets of life, and they build ties with the school staff, especially the deputy director Rafie (Javad Ezati).

The fact that finding the treasure is almost secondary to the school preoccupations of Ali and his cronies could easily have felt cheap or out of place. However, this is not the case. ‘Sun Children’ is predictable in certain areas, sometimes even a bit melodramatic, but never false in its promises. The film holds up a mirror to the viewer by showing how hard street life can be, especially for children, and always does so sincerely. That the film at the same time retains an optimistic and mobile character is quite unusual. Not everything works on ‘Sun Children, but thanks to the eccentric approach, the film often manages to impress. That is admiration.

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