The International Premiere of Parviz Shahbazi’s Trapped was a screening of the DVD copy—the film could not make it across the border, the lively audience was told. “It won’t be high quality, and it may be the only time you’ll get to see it,” said the venue director at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. No one departed.

Shahbazi’s fifth directorial effort is an entertaining, plot-driven film that features colourful characters affected by political corruption, bureaucracy and rationalization. The story follows a strong and seemingly naïve girl who is beginning her first year at university. In her new rented flat, she befriends an outgoing girl from whom she keeps her distance, but which later develops into sisterly affection, and traps her in dilemmas of conscience with far-reaching consequences.

The subtlety of what is at stake, and the suspense crafted by the doubtful relationships among people creates an organic narrative that is exciting to follow. Quotidian scenes convey friendship and warmth among the characters. Witty and fluid dialogue about financial problems, renting flats, and various other topics that affect 20-30-somethings tickle laughs out of myself, and the audience, but with sinister insinuations of their toll. By assigning scenes of political protest and ethical decline to the background, Trapped creates the mood it intends, striking a skillfully crafted balance between humour and gravitas.

The beauty of Shabazi’s film is its colloquial straight-forwardness, which encompasses underlying complexities without being didactic about patterns of cause and effect. A timely film, the relevance of which extends beyond Iran, as proven by the enthusiastic applause as the credits began to roll.