Futur Drei / No Hard Feelings

We start with a brief clip of a boy in a Sailor Moon outfit, singing and posing for the camera. We assume this is Parvis, who we now see in 2 different environments: at a gay bar where he nicks someone’s drink, dances and gets off with someone, and at a birthday party, organised by his traditional Iranian family.

If this gets your alarm bells ringing, you’re not alone. I’ve seen enough paternalistic films about the “immigrant experience” to expect a story of migrant parents who are intolerant in a way that Western parents are rarely depicted on screen. Fortunately, there are few worries on this part. For a large part of the film, you’re not really sure if Parvis’s parents are even aware of his sexuality, but in at least one scene you realise that the reason they don’t talk about it is because it’s no big deal.

Parvis has been caught shoplifting and is due to do 120 hours community service. He’s assigned to a refugee home as a translator. In a rapid shift from the earlier party scenes, he has to explain why a traumatized woman should not be deported (the offices tell him that trauma is not an adequate reason). Unable to understand her dialect, he tells them that she’s pregnant.

Parvis continues to have the occasional unsuccessful grindr dates. A very Aryan German in a plush apartment tells him that he doesn’t normally do this sort of thing with “people like you”. When Parvis looks perplexed, the grandson of Adolf explains: “you know, Greeks, Turks, hairy people”. I think that one’s to chalk up as a bad date not worth revisiting.

At the home, Parvis meets the siblings Amon and Banafshe (Bana to friends). Their relationship is intensely close – when we first see them, she is walking on his back, which I guess is some sort of massage thing. When the bullies at the home ask Amon if he’s a virgin, they tell him “your sister doesn’t count”. While nothing is going on, they really are that close.

When Amon first talks to Parvis – in a mixture of broken German and Farsi – he says that there are a lot of people “like us” here. Ostensibly he means refugees, but you detect another meaning, especially after Parvis and Amon start to have a thing. Knowing that they are toast if the bullies cotton on, they do their best to find hidden spaces in the sport hall, or in Parvis’s home, while his family entertains Bana downstairs.

Because that’s the other thing. Amon and Bana come as a joint package, so most of the dates have a touch of Jules et Jim about them. Which makes it more shocking when Bana learns that she is to be deported. One of the men looking after the inhabitants of the home offers to help with a fake marriage, saying “but you’d have to learn everything about me – the names of my siblings, the size of my dick”. For some reason, she declines.

This all seems to be heading towards an obvious conclusion where Parvis marries Bana, and the three-way relationship can continue with everyone chaperoning everyone else, but somehow this never occurs to anyone. Maybe it’s too much of a cliché, in a film that tends to avoid tired old plots, but you’d have thought that they’d have spent some time to entertain why this is not worth considering.

Here’s the thing. Futur Drei deserves all sorts of acclaim just for its choice of subject matter. Some of us are getting tired of endless variations on films about middle class neuroses. And it does touch on some very interesting discussion points. Parvis’s parents have spent decades building a life for him that was not possible for them. And yet Germany is treating him as badly as it treated them. They’re considering giving it all up and returning to Iran.

Their despair parallels Bana’s possibly enforced return. She is probably the most integrated of them all – she speaks much better German than her brother (also much better Farsi than Parvis who is mocked for his German accent), and although she has a few bad dates she is not excluded from German society to the same extent that her brother and Parvis are.

And yet. The film could have been much better written, and seems to spring between individual scenes without having an organic whole. The 4:3 ratio (why are so many recent films doing this?) does it no favours, as it reinforces a feeling that this is a superficial tv movie. There are plenty of interesting points being made here, but they never really cohere into a satisfying whole.

Do go and see the film, especially as it is director Faraz Shariat’s first film, and he will surely learn from the experience. His background is fashion and music videos, which sometimes shows a little. But there is plenty to build on here, and this will hopefully lead on to more polished successors. Get in on the ground floor as hopefully Shariat’s subsequent films will be really worth seeing.

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