Film Review: Gay Iranian Refugee Romance ‘No Hard Feelings’

Paulina Lorenz and Faraz Shariat write No Hard Feelings, a German LGBTQ drama centred on the romance between Parvis, the son of exiled Iranians and Iranian refugee Amon. Shariat who also directs uses this romance to delve into the differences in the way that Amon and Parvis are treated, whilst exploring the similarities both men share through their national culture and queer experience.

Parvis (Benjamin Radjaipou) lives a quiet life filled with family, nightclubs and Grindr hook-ups. The son of Iranian migrants, Parvis lives a comfortable life yet this is shaken after he is caught shoplifting and sentenced to community service at a refugee centre. His eyes are opened to the lifestyle of first generation Iranians who have sought refuge in Germany, including Amon (Eidin Jalali) who he strikes up a romance with. A fragile bond soon grows through a woozy romantic summer of heated first love, yet they soon realise that in Germany they are not equals.

Shariat’s direction verges on poetic at points, occasionally feeling like an artistic music video (and that is meant in the highest regard). Moments are framed with an artistic beauty with characters sometimes feeling like they are aware they are being filmed yet are somewhat frozen in time. This heightened artistic style blends calmly with a naturalistic approach to create an authentic yet poignant combination. A warm hazy eye from cinematographer Simon Vu also supports this.

Parvis and Amon make for a fascinating character comparison. The former, out loud and proud embracing his lifestyle with zest, the latter closeted and forced into presenting a traditional sense of machismo at the refugee centre in which he and his sister live. The Amon around straight heterosexual males is a man of few words and mainly keen to talk/engage in sports, turning a blind eye to homophobic comments towards community service worker Parvis from his fellow refugees. Capturing the freedoms of a German born Iranian descendant and comparing them with the closeted Iranian refugee just arriving in the country makes for a fascinating character study of two men leading very different lives despite their shared heritage and sexuality.

These differences are one such reason that the romance between Parvis and Amon is so gripping. Two very different individuals, yet moments of carefree joy between them and Amon’s sister Banafshe (Banafshe Hourmazdi) dissolve these differences – a night out sequence in particular provides plenty of incredibly human similarities when the facades of performative identity are stripped away. The romance between the pair is captured in tender scenes such as these and highly-charged erotic moments between the pair, which simmer through the natural chemistry between both actors.

All three core actors have an electric and endearing spark on screen. Benjamin Radjaipou’s Parvis’s journey from that of narcissistic western millennial to having his eyes opened by his experiences both in the refugee camp and to Amon’s life there, showcases a real growth in maturity and depth which the younger actor conveys with pristine skill. Eidin Jalali is equally impressive with the actor packing a quiet soulfulness into the role which drip feeds charm and charisma as the narrative progresses. Jalali also has an impressive knack in capturing the silent internal struggle Amon faces in compromising his views when around the other Iranian refugees. Banafshe Hourmazdi also radiates a sense of energy and optimism in the role of Amon’s vibrant and kind-hearted sister.

No Hard Feelings is available from TLA Releasing UK.