Buddha Collapsed Out Of Shame (PG)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/07/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 81 mins

Superbly directed, emotionally engaging drama with a heartbreaking performance from 6-year-old Nikbaht Noruz.

What's it all about?
Directed by acclaimed 18-year-old Iranian director Hana Makhmalbaf, Buddha Collapsed Out Of Shame is set in the Afghan town of Bamian, amidst the rubble of massive statues of Buddha that were blown up by the Taliban in 2001. Child actress Nikbaht Noruz stars as six-year-old Bakhtay, who is desperate to go to school, like her best friend Abbas (Abbas Alijome), and decides she will attend the local school at all costs.

However, Bakhtay faces a number of obstacles in her path. First, she has to buy a notebook, which means selling some of her mother's possessions. Then she discovers that she's not allowed to attend the same school as Abbas and must make her way to the girls' school across the river. Finally, her path is blocked by a gang of young boys who are pretending to be the Taliban.

The Good
Nikbaht Noruz delivers a performance that would make most Hollywood child actors weep with shame – she's utterly heartbreaking as Bakhtay and yet she never gives up (even after the horrid Taliban boys tear pages out of her hard-won new notebook). There's also strong support from Abbas Alijome as her loyal best friend.

Makhmalbaf gets terrific performances from all her child actors and maintains a constant sense of tension throughout. Indeed, some of the scenes are genuinely terrifying – when the Taliban boys start to play "the stoning game", you have no idea how far they'll go and you long for an adult to show up.

The Great
The film works brilliantly, despite the in-your-face nature of its allegorical script. Ultimately, the film is extremely moving and leaves you with an odd mixture of despair and hope.

Worth seeing?
In short, Buddha Collapsed Out Of Shame is an emotionally engaging, impressively directed drama with a remarkable performance from Nikbaht Noruz. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 19/05/2019 17:59

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