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Parents' Guide to


By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Moving, unrelenting tale of Iranian teen's fall from grace.

Movie NR 2018 102 minutes
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Unrelenting and tense, this story of an average Iranian teen under extraordinary pressure is terrifying in a quiet way that will resonate with Americans of the #MeToo era. Even to Ava's pious classmates, Ava's parents seem unduly strict. Her mom (Bahar Noohian) demands to drop her right at the door of her school and yells at her to go inside rather than meeting her friends at the gates. And when her mom learns that Ava snuck away from her friend Melody's house to hang out in a park with a friend's brother, she's so furious and upset that she drags Ava to an ob-gyn to find out whether her daughter is still a virgin (note: that's not really a thing you can tell by looking at someone). And from there, things just keep getting worse for Ava and her family.

The true horrors of this film are the outrageously (to Westeners, anyway) out-of-proportion consequences for what seem (to us) like very minor transgressions. When Ava spends time with the boy she likes, the two of them don't even touch; when she self-harms at school, her Dolores Umbridge-like principal immediately threatens to expel her from school -- which would, we're told, be utterly ruinous for Ava's future. While it's easy to understand why a teen might be chafing against her parents' rules and restrictions, it's harder to fathom a world in which a young person's fortunes could so quickly fall from promising to annihilated. Ava will make you understand -- and feel strongly for the girl it's about.

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