Synopsis by Mark Deming
A complex web of emotional and legal issues is being spun around a young man on death row in this drama from Iran. Akbar (Hossein Farzi-Zadeh) murdered his girlfriend when he was 16 years old; now that he's 18, he's being transferred from a facility for juvenile offenders to an adult prison, where he'll wait until his death sentence is carried out. However, no one is sure when that will be, because Akbar's father is required to pay "blood money" to Rahmati (Faramarz Gharibian), the father of the slain girl, and he hasn't been able to come up with the cash. Akbar's sentence could be commuted to life imprisonment if Rahmati would be willing to forgive him, and A'la (Babak Ansari), a friend of Akbar who has recently been released from jail, wants to persuade Rahmati to give the young man a second chance. A'la asks Firoozeh (Taraneh Alidoosti), Akbar's sister, for help, but she's already tried to intercede on his behalf, with no success, and is busy looking after her husband, a drug addict who sells dope to support his habit. A'la turns to Rahmati's wife (Ahoo Kheradmand), who has a more merciful nature, and suggests a way out of the dilemma. Rahmati's younger daughter is ill, and needs medical treatment the family cannot afford -- if A'la and Firoozeh can come up with the money for the doctors, Rahmati may be willing to forgive and forget. Beautiful City (aka Shahr-e Ziba) was the second feature film from writer and director Asghar Farhadi.