An Iranian man seeking a Danish bride finds romance increasingly dark and complex.
Dir: Milad Alami. Den. 2017. 103mins
The title of Danish-based Iranian filmmaker Milas Alami’s debut film may well hint at a genial comedy or drama, but while this shrewdly structured film may well have the backdrop of a refugee desperately seeking a Danish passport by marrying a local woman it is no Green Card-style romp, instead it cleverly balances psychological thrills with astute drama, all driven by an engaging central performance by Ardalan Esmaili.
Director Alami offers a nuanced and deftly detailed glimpse into Scandinavia’s Iranian community, with the film ultimately striking because of its thematic complexity as much as its nicely structured storyline.
He plays Esmail, a good-looking Iranian expat in Copenhagen. He frequents high-end bars and clubs in the lookout for women. He may wear a nicely made suit, but in truth he lives hostels for immigrants, works as a furniture mover and that suit is the only one he has. He needs to get married to stay in the country and his time is limited.
On a certain level the story is the bleak and worryingly familiar tale of an immigrant trying to stay on in a new land, but The Charmer (Charmøren) morphs into a dark drama with hints of film noir, and while slowly paced Alami and Ingeborg Topsøe’s screenplay is always absorbing and intriguing.
The film opens with him having sex with a woman which then spirals off to a moment of drama that is only resolved later in the film. We next see Esmail doing his best to sustain another relationship with a Danish woman, but she breaks it off, saying he is “rushing it”.
Back at his regular pick-up bar he meets smart and savvy Iranian-born Danish citizen Sara (singer Soho Rezanejad, who makes a charismatic screen debut), but she is wise to his intentions. As he meets her mother and gets more involved with the Iranian community in Denmark the pair start to get closer. As he sees hope for his Danish future, his past comes back to haunt him, with the film taking some shrewd changes of direction and becoming a much more complex film.
Ardalan Esmaili and Soho Rezanejad give the film a real sense of compassion and depth, with their scenes together brimming with depth and a sense of shared history. Director Alami offers a nuanced and deftly detailed glimpse into Scandinavia’s Iranian community, with the film ultimately striking because of its thematic complexity as much as its nicely structured storyline.
Production companies: Good Company Films, Garagefilm International, Film i Väst, Act3, RedRental, FilmGear
International sales: Alma Cinema, www.almacinema.com
Producer: Stinna Lassen
Executive producers: Anni Fernandez, Vibeke Windeløv, Ole Søndberg, Olivier Muller, Gary Farkas, Clement Lepoutre
Screenplay: Anna Ingeborg Topsøe
Cinematography: Sophia Olsson
Editor: Olivia Neergaard-Holm
Music: Martin Juel Dirkov
Main cast: Ardalan Esmaili, Soho Rezanejad, Lars Brygmann, Susan Taslimi, Amalie Lindegård