Review: 'The Gardener' digs into the Bahai faith

Eona the gardner reflects Paula, the canadian who teaches children in the film, in his mirror in the movie "The Gardner." (Handout / July 31, 2013)
July 31, 2013, 6:04 p.m.
The free-form documentary "The Gardener" takes acclaimed, exiled Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf ("Kandahar") and son Maysam to Israel to investigate the 170-year-old Bahai faith, which — although based in Haifa —has its roots in Persia. Unfortunately, the elder Makhmalbaf, who wrote and directed, puts many spins on this ethereal mood piece — it is by turns poetic, impressionistic, metaphorical and even a bit trippy — without satisfying such genre basics as structure, depth and resolution.
Makhmalbaf, the first Iranian filmmaker in decades to shoot a movie in Israel, has a noble aim: to better understand why so many Iranians have been vilified for following the Bahai religion, despite its teachings of peace and harmony (unlike Islam and Christianity, which have at times been associated with violence).
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That said, Makhmalbaf, a self-described agnostic (though onetime Islamic militant), skims the loaded topic via earnest chats with several beatific Bahai adherents, including the film's Papua New Guinea-born title character, who tends Haifa's stunning Bahai gardens, where much of the picture was shot. More attention, however, is paid to random musings, quasi-symbolic visuals (birds are of special fascination) and stagey beats than to effective probing.
Only when Mohsen and Maysam argue the merits and debits of religion does the film gain steam; Maysam's side trip to Jerusalem to survey the seemingly paradoxical coexistence of its three chief religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — adds heft, even as it echoes a kind of snark-free version of Bill Maher's "Religulous."
"The Gardener"
MPAA Rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes. In English and Farsi with English subtitles
Playing at: Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills.


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Try this again. A link to my review:
First, I truly feel that someone needs to check your photo caption. You misspelled "gardener" and forgot to capitalize the first letter of the word "Canadian." The credits list the full name of the man as: Ririva Eona Mabi. The full name of the woman is Paula Asadi. 
Next, if you check in your AP Stylebook, the correct way to write Baha'i includes an apostrophe. 
I could quibble about the use of Persia and.

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Iran, but that is a minor point. 
I think there is also some subtext that this reviewer missed, too. 
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Here's a link to my review:
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