Shayda (2023)

Shayda (2023) Cover

Shayda, directed by Noora Niasari, is an emotionally charged exploration of the life of Shayda, an Iranian immigrant woman in Australia, as she grapples with an abusive past. The film, currently boasting a flawless 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with 39 reviews as of November 26, 2023, effectively weaves a narrative that delves into universal themes of fear, resilience, and the pursuit of freedom. Inspired by Niasari's own childhood experiences, the story unfolds at a women's shelter, where Shayda, portrayed with exceptional depth by Zar Amir Ebrahimi, raises her daughter Mona (Selina Zahednia) while attempting to break free from her abusive husband, Hossein (Osamah Sami).

What sets Shayda apart is its nuanced portrayal of an abusive relationship. Rather than resorting to a stereotypical depiction of an overtly villainous husband, the film takes a more subtle approach, showcasing a man who appears normal on the surface. This decision adds a layer of authenticity, making the character more unsettling as the audience discovers the depths of his toxicity through Shayda's experiences and actions. The tension in the narrative creates an atmosphere that places the audience squarely in the shoes of the anxious protagonist.

The film's exploration of Shayda's paranoia and its impact on her relationships displays the psychological toll of toxic partnerships. Scenes where Shayda nervously questions the presence of a parked car or abruptly leaves a club, haunted by the imagined presence of her husband, vividly capture the fear and anxiety associated with leaving an abusive relationship. Ebrahimi's performance is a standout, bringing authenticity to Shayda's character through subtle yet powerful facial expressions, voice tone, and body language.

The choice of a 4:3 square aspect ratio, reminiscent of filmmaking in 1995, adds an additional layer to Shayda. This aesthetic decision contributes to the film's sense of realism, creating an immersive experience that feels as though the events are unfolding in a specific period. It also invokes a sense of nostalgia, enhancing the audience's connection to Shayda's story.

Shayda is a cinematic triumph that masterfully tackles the complexities of abusive relationships. Niasari's direction, combined with Ebrahimi's compelling performance, creates a film that resonates emotionally and intellectually. The 100% Rotten Tomatoes score is well-deserved, as "Shayda" not only captivates with its narrative but also serves as a powerful testament to the resilience of those seeking liberation from toxic relationships.

Final Verdict:Offers a subtle and authentic portrayal of abuse, with a compelling performance by Zar Amir Ebrahimi.