Tropic Sprockets / Fremont

By Ian Brockway

Taking a cue from Jim Jarmusch, director Babak Jalali’s “Fremont” is an off kilter look at an immigrant experience from the viewpoint of a young woman. Immersive and engaging albeit at a leisurely pace, the film hooks you with crisp black and white imagery and dry laughs.

Donya (Anaitra Wali Zada) is a young Afghan woman in her mid-20s living in Fremont, California working at a Chinese fortune cookie factory. Every day she works in close cramped quarters mixing cookie batter. She is pressured by co-workers to find a boyfriend but prefers the solitary life.

She spends time with Joanna (Hilda Schmeling) who sings.

Donya can’t sleep so she seeks out a doctor (Gregg Turkington) and the two become friends. The doctor reads “White Fang” aloud and Donya gives the doctor her earnest attention.

One day, loneliness strikes and Donya types out her number and places it in a cookie.

Days pass. Someone finds the cookie and texts Donya, telling her to ask for Deer, presumably a man’s name.

Thinking it a blind date, she hits the road.

This film truly captures Donya’s pensive condition. Her impassive stare speaks volumes.

While more Diane Arbus than Jarmusch at times with its dreamy melancholic pace, there still is enough quirk and circumstance for every audience.

The sight of Jeremy Allen White as a nonchalant car mechanic is especially haunting and wistful.

Write Ian at [email protected]

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