Truth and Movies

No Hard Feelings

Review by Emily Maskell @EmMaskell

Directed by

Faraz Shariat

Starring

Banafshe Hourmazdi Benjamin Radjaipour Eidin Jalali

Anticipation.

A bold premise from a new name.

Enjoyment.

A joy from start to finish.

In Retrospect.

Brazen and audacious, a magnificent film.

Queer romance blossoms in this tactful tale of migrant identity from first-time director Faraz Shariat.

“I am the future,” Parvis (Benjamin Radjaipour) mutters to himself in the darkness of his bedroom, a promise for his own sanity as a young gay German-Iranian man. In Faraz Shariat’s debut feature, No Hard Feelings, Parvis confronts the direction of his future and the duplexity of his own identity against the backdrop of Germany’s refugee programme.

Parvis’ nonchalant life of Grindr hookups and hazy gay bar raves is interrupted when he’s caught stealing and given community service at the local refugee shelter. On his first day as a translator, Parvis is left overwhelmed and in tears. Handsome Amon (Eidin Jalali) approaches, extending a hand of friendship that Parvis grabs. Amon’s vivacious sister Banafshe (Banafshe Hourmazdi) completes a trio whose bond comes instantly, each dealing with their own personal plight. For Bana, it’s her deportation order; for Amon, it’s his sexual orientation; and for Parvis, it’s a disconnect to his ethnic identity.

Shariat’s camera glides through neon-lit parties before coming to a stuttering halt as Parvis bends over and empties his stomach on a street corner. Amon and Bana are by his side holding the blonde wig from his face; in this small town, the brother-sister duo is his lifeline. As their connection deepens so do feelings between Amon and Parvis. It is Amon who makes the first move, leaning over the bathtub to tenderly kiss Parvis. Lips move but words are lost somewhere between confessions and promises. Their sweet intimacy becomes sensual with dappled light and entangled limbs, their bodies indistinguishable.

Beside cinematographer Simon Vu’s stylistically queer visuals, Shariat’s eloquent direction broaches the reality of these young lives with a humble truthfulness. Radjaipour’s studious and defiant performance gives boundless energy to this young man’s intimate perspective. Though Parvis’ self-assurance crumbles in conversations with his mother, asking whether there is an Iranian word for gay (there is). Shouldering the weight of parental expectation, Parvis lives in the shadow of their sacrifice. Comfortable with the label ‘queer’ but pushing back against his Iranian heritage, he is between worlds.

Refreshingly, No Hard Feelings rejects the desire for belonging. The characters’ bodies are their home, while any semblance of external stability is a rug under their feet. Neither Bana nor Amon has a permanence – they are souls awaiting a ruling. Their concern is obvious, but the optimism the film emits is unabashed. “The world is ours!” Bana screams, echoing Parvis’ earlier claim, her voice ricocheting as her best friend and brother watch proudly on.

Published 7 Dec 2020

Tags: Faraz Shariat LGBT+ No Hard Feelings Queer Cinema

Anticipation.

A bold premise from a new name.

Enjoyment.

A joy from start to finish.

In Retrospect.

Brazen and audacious, a magnificent film.

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