Not Without My Daughter (1991)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Docudrama, Political Drama, Escape Film  |   Release Date - Jan 11, 1991 (USA)  |   Run Time - 114 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

This deeply xenophobic film hews closely to the movie-of-the-week formula, allowing talented to but erratic actress Sally Field to succumb to every predictable pathos as her character fights for the right to leave the country to which she and her daughter have been virtually kidnapped. Regardless of the actual facts in the real-life case of Betty Mahmoody, surely director Brian Gilbert and screenwriter David W. Rintels could have tried a little harder to place the actions of Mahmoody's husband in context instead of portraying him as an evil Arab willing to marry and settle down in America for years and simply wait for the chance to whisk his wife away on a "vacation" back home. In a bit of Gandhi-style casting, half-Spanish, half-Italian actor Alfred Molina struggles nobly to give this underwritten character depth; perhaps an actual Persian actor would have succeeded. In any case, no single performance could save Not Without My Daughter from its reactionary script, disturbingly one-sided viewpoint, and distorted picture of modern Iran. By all accounts, the plight of American women taken aback by their loss of rights once they've married into another culture is a real issue, one that's rarely investigated in print or onscreen. Unfortunately, this film offers neither insight nor context -- merely propaganda and several moments of unintentional camp.