Shayda by Noora Niasari [7/10]

Shayda offers a tense, credible, timely drama about an Iranian woman, with her six-year-old daughter, hiding in an Australian women’s shelter from her abusive Iranian husband, who has the relentless goal of taking the girl with him when he returns to Iran. Written and directed by Australian/Iranian Noora Niasari, the film kicks off in suspense mode, with the protagonist peering out of the shelter’s windows whenever a car approaches, and from then on, the tension is palpable. Niasari’s narrative control successfully melds the escalating plot and sweet mother-daughter moments, although I felt that some of the celebratory scenes played out too long. Zar Amir Ebrahim is flawless in the lead role and Osamah Sami plays the creepy, religious husband to a tee. Shayda is a well crafted, tense, and germane film.

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