portrait of an outsider
by Douglas Messerli
Rahman Milani (screenwriter and director) Stille landskap / 2003
The two evidently meet up in the Norwegian boy’s home to hang out together, share their love of art, and enjoy one another’s bodies, never imagining that without a closed curtain a neighbor, another Iranian immigrant, might be observing their lovely kisses.
If this film’s narrative seems almost too pared-down to represent any complexity about Milani’s story, in its images of the frozen landscape and homelife violence, it fully brings to life the painful isolation of its central figure.
Yet I would like to know where this young man’s suffering leads, to discover what possible solutions a queer has in a world in which he is a kind of double-outsider, both politically/religiously and sexually. Is there any haven available to him within Norway’s relatively small, like-minded population? Is there even any respite elsewhere in the world? If there was ever a universal symbol of loneliness it lies in the face of this young kid.
Los Angeles, June 24, 2021
Reprinted from My Queer Cinema blog and World Cinema Review (June 2021).