Written, directed, and co-produced by Noora Niasari, “Shayda” is inspired by Niasari’s childhood experiences. Set in an unnamed Australian city in 1995, the story follows an Iranian immigrant woman named Shayda, who is raising her young daughter as the two live in a women’s shelter while she is also attempting to divorce her abusive husband. He is the one who brought them to Australia, where he is studying to be a medical doctor.
Zahra Amir Ebrahimi, who won the Best Actress Award at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival for playing the journalist in “Holy Spider,” is fine as the title character (as is Selina Zahednia who, as the daughter Mona, is Niasari’s stand-in). Still, her role does not have much depth. The same applies to the rest of the cast, only more so – the father, the Australian woman from Immigration who is of immeasurable help to both mother and daughter and a man who seems to take a fancy to Shayda have no characters at all. Eventually, you begin to feel underwhelmed.
Many influential people are behind this film. Cate Blanchett is an executive producer. Overall, though, as a comment on the situation of Iranian women, both at home and in Western society, it’s a missed opportunity.