The White Balloon ★★★½

1995 Director's Fortnight

Panahi’s debut is lovely and well-sustained, with an ideal balance of repetition and development (and pauses). It’s also yet another Iranian film that masterfully uses interruption to casually evoke a range of perspectives. Without upping the stakes or shifting focus, Panahi reveals a bustling Tehran full of people just trying to get through the day. His light touch is crucial, spinning a web of clashing priorities without arguing for the great import of any one. As young Razieh, Aida Mohammadkhani is alternately sweet, bratty, and distrustful, and always 100% natural. She beautifully conveys a fear of the adult world but also the stubborn belief that everyone should share her predicament.