Reviews and notes
2020 Berlin, Galway, Wellington, São Paulo, Taipei, Stockholm
When we have no choice about the life we are born into, what choice do we have in the life we want to live? Faraz Shariat’s assured debut feature examines this by setting a tentative queer love story against the sobering realities of life as an immigrant in modern-day Germany. With dreamy cinematography that invokes summer crushes and stolen moments, No Hard Feelings
is at turns sexy and romantic but nevertheless refuses to let its characters escape the pasts they are running from. As a second-generation Irani-German millennial, Parvis has struggled to understand his heritage. Instead, he seeks solace in gay clubs and casual hook-ups with men who bluntly tell him they don’t usually go for “ethnic” guys. For reasons that are never explained, nor required, Parvis is sentenced to community service at a shelter for refugees. It’s there he meets the smouldering Amon and his older sister Bana, recent arrivals from Iran. As the trio’s friendship blossoms, Parvis is confronted with a glimpse of what his life could have been had his parents not fled Iran, while a burgeoning love affair with Amon begins, even as the threat of deportation looms. Shariat’s light directorial touch eschews audience manipulation for clear-eyed reality, allowing the characters’ fates to unfurl organically as they face a future that holds both hope and disappointment.
– Chris Tse, NZIFF 2020.
As the music pounds and sweaty bodies envelop one another, this German coming-of-age drama leaves no holds barred, depicting with raw explicitness the struggles of being both an immigrant and uncomfortable in one’s sexuality. A feature film debut for director Faraz Shariat, co-written by Paulina Lorenz, No Hard Feelings
draws on the 26 year-old’s own personal experiences, presenting an energetic yet dreamlike cinematic journey that, though it doesn’t travel far, explores and reveals so much.
No Hard Feelings
premiered at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival, winning the Teddy Award for best LGBTQ-themed feature film in the process. It primarily follows the confident and openly gay Parvis (Benjamin Radjaipour), a young man who has avoided the domestic strain that can emerge from a wild sexuality and appetite, being raised by an accepting Iranian-German family. Parvis is ordered to complete community service at a refugee detention centre – overwhelming work at first that develops into more when he meets immigrants Banafshe (Banafshe Hourmazdi) and her quieter brother Amon (Eidin Jalili). He finds his feelings and heart strings begin to wrap tightly around the latter, forming a deep bond of affection.
Faraz Shariat’s film is more a realistic portrayal of adolescent relationships than an adventure, simple in its story and effective in its delivery. Once the young characters’ sexual engagement is sparked, the bleach-blonde Radjaipour and co-star Jalili steer the ship, their sizzling on-screen chemistry beautifully emphasised in exploration of their more intimate moments. No Hard Feelings
avoids any clichéd plot mechanisms, choosing to instead invest in the characters and how their relationships develop through everyday events and interactions, much to the benefit of both the viewer and the experience as a whole.
It is boldly ambitious to consider two important themes in tandem, but when handled correctly, as here, the payoff is there for the world to see. For 92 minutes it is wonderful to watch, with stunning cinematography and a lavish, day glo-inspired colour palette; the editing and soundscape are unique and inspired, rocking the viewer back and forth in a cocktail of environments. The main question then is “Is there enough of it?”. What is there is excellent, but the plot lacks organic dramatisation – a greater sense of peril or dilemma that could take it to the next level.
However, as a semi-autobiographical story that is presented with a radical and honest approach, No Hard Feelings
really strikes a chord, particularly with lovers of art house and indie cinema. It is a relative success for the young director, and it will be exciting to see what he, and the youthful actors in his cast, can produce in the very near future.
- Guy Lambert, The Up Coming, 2 December 2020.
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