Film Threat archive logo


By Merle Bertrand | March 23, 2000

Caveh Zahedi (played by himself) belongs to the Church of IMBAS. Of course, he doesn’t know this because IMBAS is a tongue-in-cheek acronym for It Must Be A Sign that I made up a long time ago to explain anything odd that happened to me. As founder, therefore, I now hereby pronounce Caveh, High Priest of the Church of IMBAS. It’s a small consolation, I’m sure, for what must be one of the worst days of his life. He’s broke, thanks to his sputtering filmmaking (sigh) career. His long-suffering girlfriend Laura (Laura Macias) is threatening to break up with him. They’ve been evicted from their apartment and he wrecks Laura’s mother’s car. That’s a full day. Yet, through it all, Caveh remains convinced that this is all part of God’s plan; that these disasters are something he and Laura are supposed to go through in order to emerge, happy and together, on the other side. “A Sign from God” is one of the more unusual romantic comedies I’ve seen in a while. Greg Watkins’ low-key but very funny film is a highly cerebral affair with a distinctly European feel to it. Much of the dialogue is ad-libbed and often staged in long, uninterrupted master shots with few close-ups. It’s an unnerving effect, made all the more so when Watkins does punch in or when he has Caveh address the camera in the film’s climactic scene. While Watkins deserves credit for the stylistic choice and DP Jennifer Jew does a splendid job utilizing the hilly San Francisco surroundings, most of what makes this film work is Caveh. As his world collapses around him, he maintains a relentless optimism that’s both grating and ingratiating at the same time. He also deserves credit for one of the funniest scenes in this year’s festival; an hysterically moronic pitch session in which he proposes such oddball film ideas as a “retarded Romeo and Juliet” and a version of “Little Women”…with dwarves. By turns sweet, quirky, comical, and exhausting, “A Sign from God” stretches the tired conventions of the romantic comedy like few films I’ve see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon