MovieMavenGal (aka Pardesi)’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is a sweeping romantic epic set in Azerbaijan at
the time of World War I. Ali is Muslim, and his love Nino is Christian. Ali's father has no problem with them becoming engaged, but Nino's father hesitates at this interfaith union. (Nino's father is played by the wonderful Mandy Patinkin.)
A colleague of Nino's father says he will advocate for their union, but actually wants Nino for himself. When he tries to kidnap Nino to forceably marry her, Ali rides to the rescue. In the fight that ensues, the kidnapper is killed and Ali's father sends Ali off to the mountains to avoid prosecution and to recover.
Before Nino's parents can marry her off to another, Nino travels in to the remote mountains to find Ali. They marry and have an idyllic life in the picturesque village. But while they are away the conflict of WWI and the Russian revolution have been raging. The oil of Azerbaijan is too enticing for Lenin and his army. Ali gets caught up in the struggle for Azerbaijan's independence. Adam Bakri is absolutely dreamy as Ali. Maria Valverde is quite good as Nino, but Bakri is the standout of the film.
Asif Kapadia blew my socks off with the documentary Senna at Sundance a few years back, and he has been nominated for an Oscar for the documentary Amy. The film was shot in Turkey and Azerbaijan and the landscapes are stunning. The deserts reminded me of the stark landscape of his previous film with Irrfan Khan, The Warrior.
This is a sweeping story and romance that reminds me of the scope of something like Dr. Zhivago. I absolutely loved it, and it's about a place I really knew nothing about.