Refugees, Trump’s Muslim ban, forbidden love, spying, and an epic story of survival, growth, parenting, bureaucratic insanity, and danger spanning six years — Love Child covers a wide variety of subjects in a profoundly moving documentary and an astounding tour de force of filmmaking. Think Boyhood, if it were real and had life-or-death stakes.
The first lines of the movie are chilling: “I’m not sure if, tomorrow, I’ll be dead or alive.” A family is leaving their home in Iran under the very real danger of execution. Sahand and Leila have a five-year-old child, Mani. The only problem is that he’s the product of adultery, punishable by death in Iran. Leila is married to a drug addict who physically beats her, and yet the courts in Iran will not grant her a divorce. Sahand is also in a loveless marriage he can’t get out of. Years before the film started, the two had an affair, resulting in Mani, but they have to pretend that Sahand is not the father. Mani’s true origin and the couple’s love must be kept a secret from everyone, even family since there are spies everywhere.
“…the two had an affair, resulting in Mani, but they have to pretend that Sahand is not the father.”
Sahand and Leila ultimately decide that they owe Mani and themselves a real-life of openness and freedom. The doc opens in 2012 as they flee to Turkey to apply for asylum through a UN program that they hope will relocate them elsewhere. We follow the family through six years of uncertainty, loneliness, family drama, financial hardship, worry, political intrigue, and hope as they fight an unending bureaucracy and shifting political sands.