Osama, the first post-Taliban Afghan film, paints a grim portrait of life under the Taliban that’s reminiscent of Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Kandahar. In fact, Osama is deeply indebted to Iranian filmmakers Makhmalbaf and Abbas Kiarostami (who influenced a sequence where characters directly address the camera). Here, a young girl disguises herself as a boy so she can support her mother and grandmother. When she is required to go to the Taliban’s school for boys, things become quite precarious.
Osama has many pleasures, including vivid photography, straightforward storytelling, and relatively natural acting. And then there’s the wonder of seeing Afghanistan portrayed by its own people. Nonetheless, the movie clearly has an agenda, which makes a horrifying conclusion all but certain, sapping some of the film’s energy.