Beautiful City

Watch Beautiful City

  • TV14
  • 2023
  • 1 hr 42 min
  • 7.6  (6,093)
  • 69

Beautiful City, a 2004 Iranian film directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, is a poignant and deeply moving drama that delves into the complexities of justice, redemption, and human relationships. Starring a talented cast including Taraneh Alidoosti, Faramarz Gharibian, and Babak Ansari, the film is set against the backdrop of Iran’s capital, Tehran, and offers a profound look at the country's legal and social landscape through an intimate narrative.

The story follows the plight of Akbar, played by Hossein Farzi-Zadeh, a young man on death row, awaiting execution for a crime he committed at the age of 16. As Iranian law dictates, juveniles cannot be executed until they reach the age of 18, and now that Akbar is nearing this critical birthday, his death sentence may soon be carried out, save for one remaining hope: the prospect of forgiveness from the victim's family.

Central to the narrative is Akbar's sister, Firoozeh, portrayed by Taraneh Alidoosti with a delicate blend of strength and vulnerability. She becomes the emotional core of the film as she tirelessly campaigns for her brother’s life, exploring every avenue that might lead to his salvation. Firoozeh's dedication to Akbar, despite her own hardships, showcases Alidoosti's powerful performance, which imbues the character with a nuanced depth that is both convincing and compelling.

Alidoosti is joined by Faramarz Gharibian, who plays a pivotal role as A'la, a friend of Akbar’s and a fellow inmate released from prison, who becomes an unexpected ally in the effort to free Akbar. His character is complex, as A'la must grapple with his own murky past and moral compass while trying to help Firoozeh navigate the intricacies of Iranian law and societal pressure. Gharibian's performance is masterful, lending the film an authenticity that’s as enthralling as it is distressing.

Babak Ansari rounds out the central cast, portraying the victim’s family attorney with a performance that reflects the intricate blend of personal biases, legal obligation, and compassion that his character must embody. As the lawyer, Ansari's character becomes an instrumental figure in the unfolding drama, oscillating between the roles of an adversary and a potential facilitator of mercy.

Beautiful City is much more than a simple tale of a sister’s fight to save her brother—it’s an exploration of the dynamics that govern forgiveness and retribution within Iranian society. As Farhadi is known for, the film presents the audience with moral dilemmas that are universal in nature, despite being deeply rooted in the cultural specificities of Iran. The director's use of stark realism, minimalistic settings, and long, thoughtful takes adds a layer of intensity to the story, as the characters’ lives unfold with a deliberate pace that underscores their emotional and ethical struggles.

The setting of Tehran is used not just as a geographical location, but as a living entity that reflects the internal turmoil of the characters. The city, with its bustling streets and austere courtrooms, acts as both a witness and a participant in the drama, encapsulating the juxtaposition of modernity and tradition that is so pertinent to the film's central theme.

Beautiful City is a testament to Farhadi's directorial prowess, encapsulating a style that is both subtle and profound. Known for his skill in extracting deeply genuine performances from his actors, Farhadi creates a space where the lines between actor and character blur, immersing the audience into a world that feels disarmingly real.

The film is also notable for its incisive commentary on the Iranian justice system, painting a human face on the convoluted bureaucracy and rigid laws that dictate the fate of the film’s characters. It provocatively tackles the concept of "Qesas," the Islamic tenet of retributive justice, and the power it vests in the hands of the victim's kin to forgive and spare a life or to exact the ultimate punishment.

As the plot of Beautiful City weaves through the various characters and their intersecting lives, the film expertly captures the tension between hope and despair, and the lengths to which love and dedication can drive an individual in the face of insurmountable obstacles. It is a cinematic journey that is both heart-wrenching and eye-opening, providing a thoughtful critique of societal norms while also delivering an emotionally charged story.

In conclusion, Beautiful City stands as a powerful piece of Iranian cinema that offers international audiences a glimpse into the soul of its society while maintaining a compelling universality in its storytelling. Through its thoughtful examination of morality, its rich character development, and its stunning performances, the film engages the audience in a narrative that is as thought-provoking as it is emotionally compelling. Farhadi crafts a narrative that transcends cultural borders and compels viewers to confront the most fundamental questions about justice, humanity, and the possibility of redemption.

Beautiful City is a 2023 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 42 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6 and a MetaScore of 69.

Where to Watch Beautiful City
Beautiful City is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Amazon and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Beautiful City for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 42 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (6,093)
  • Metascore