THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


When I first heard the title The Day I Became a Woman, I imagined a modern-day version of Ed Wood's transsexual opus Glen or Glenda. In actuality, this is the latest entry in the Shooting Gallery Film Series. I really look forward to each new film in the series because, good or bad, they are all different. Different is good. I must say, though, that if I told you The Day I Became a Woman is an Iranian film consisting of three separate mini-stories dealing with women's liberation, you might reasonably say: "Uh...I think I'll just catch Along Came a Spider instead." You would think: "Thank goodness I am not the critic here, because then I would have to sit through that." You would have a preconceived notion that a 3-part Iranian feminist film would be pretentious and boring, the kind of thing high-minded people go to and pretend to "get" as they sip their caffe lattes in a SoHo coffeehouse afterward.

And you would be dead right.

The Day I Became a Woman feeds into every average moviegoer's stereotype of what a foreign film is. (Many of them are actually very good - I promise!) Let's break this one down, shall we?

Story #1 - "Havva": A little girl is about to celebrate her 9th birthday (it becomes official at noon). She wants to go play with her male friend, but her family expects her to stay home and perform her womanly duties. The girl's grandmother shows her how to tell time by plunging a stick into the ground and measuring the length of its shadow. She then tells the girl to go play for exactly one hour, at the end of which she must begin her entry into womanhood. The girl walks around town marking time with the stick. She goes to her friend's house. He can't come out. She goes and buys some candy, then comes back. Checks the stick again. Spends five minutes of screen time sharing a lollipop with the boy. (We see every last suck they take on that blasted thing.) Checks the stick. Time's up. She goes home.


Ahoo pedals for her life in The Day I Became a Woman
Story #2 - "Ahoo": A young woman is among hundreds riding bicycles in a race. She rides. She rides some more. She keeps riding. A man on a horse rides beside her. It is her husband. Get off the bike, he says, or I will divorce you. She keeps riding. Her husband comes back. Yells it again. She keeps riding. Other men on horses come, yelling for her to get off or her husband will divorce her. She pedals away furiously. I kid you not - this segment is twenty-five minutes (twenty-five minutes!) of a woman riding a bicycle.


Story #3 - "Houra": A wheelchair-bound old woman, with lots of cash is pushed around an Iranian shopping mall (what - no Gap?) by a young boy. She buys everything in sight, from a refrigerator to a stereo system. Takes it all to a beach and sets it up like it's a residence. Needs to get everything to a waiting ship that will take her home. This segment seems to have been designed simply because someone thought it would look neat to have a shot of this old woman and her belongings floating on a giant raft.


If I were pretentious, I would tell you that The Day I Became a Woman is a trilogy of tales about the liberation of women's spirits in a society that typically represses them. I, however, am not pretentious. Allow me to sum up this movie in one simple, easy to understand sentence:


( out of four)

The Day I Became a Woman is unrated but contains nothing offensive. The running time is 1 hour and 14 minutes.
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