Life (2021) – (short film)

by Afra Nariman

Life (2021)

Director: Jafar Panahi


Life, in all its forms, unfolding over the course of a 15-minute home-film. 

Panahi’s simple, COVID-era short covers familial topics such as inter-generational relations, the different ways of being across generations, and the existential fear of loss and the unexpected during the onset of the pandemic. 

It speaks volumes when Jafar’s mother is on FaceTime with her granddaughter, and must excuse herself after getting too emotional when her granddaughter makes a playful and loving joke that she would die for her grandmother. Grandma will not hear such talk of her granddaughter dying before herself — something that had become a genuine fear of hers, due to the threat of COVID and the fact that she felt so separated from her granddaughter, who was then living in Europe. 

In the following scene, grandma opens up about this fearful sadness that she has, to her daughter-in-law, Tahereh:

“Each time I call to see how she is, she starts saying that she’ll die for me!”

Tahereh responds:

“It’s out of love!”

To which, grandma says of her other grandchild, Jafar and Tahereh’s son: 

“On the other hand, Panah never answers my calls.”

Tahereh’s response:

“They’re different…”

Inner-conflicts often inform how we interact and react to our family relations. In a time when tomorrow is not promised, and death feels possible — and joking about death, too painful — these inner-conflicts are heightened. Through Jafar’s mother, we see this happening. Her biggest fear, she says, is to never see her grandchildren again. 

In the final scene, after spending the entire film voicing her disdain for, and fear of, Iggy — Jafar’s pet iguana — grandma is seen sitting by the window, petting and singing to Iggy, while outside the window, new life is entering the world. This simplistic final image evokes the sentiment that conflicts — whether interior or exterior — can be solved by taking the time to witness the present, and experience the life constantly happening around you.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

View this Review on Letterboxd:

Like and Follow on Letterboxd to see my other reviews, and for new ones regularly

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s