The Doll - Short Film Review

★★★

Written & Directed by: #ElaheEsmaili

Short Documentary Film Review by Taryll Baker

Poster for The Doll

After consulting with his relatives a 35-year-old father consents to the marriage of his 14-year-old daughter. As individuals with differing perspectives, his family grapple with the decision.


This short documentary from Elahe Esmaili delves into the tragic consultations between family members with altering views, amongst the subject of young marriage. We follow a father as he comes to terms with the proposed marriage of his 14-year-old daughter, Asal, to a boy; his struggling acceptance and eventual agreement. It shows a life that isn’t so well known to Western audiences. Something that is seen as peculiar or bizarre here, is the norm across the ocean. The Doll brings it to the forefront and simply asks you to stick around and listen.


We see the daughter mention how she sees herself as mature for her age, and while that may be the case, maturity is something that comes with time and experience. What one individual feels of themselves in terms of maturity, is the opposite to an older figure. There is nothing that can prepare you for the reality of intense relationships apart from experience, and that isn’t something that you gain at such a young age. A marriage at 14 years isn’t exactly going to have the best outcome. There will be many challenges to face and that will be the true test of the individuals’ maturity.

How someone can balance school and a full-on relationship with their other half is quite beyond my comprehension. It’s something that feels very scary and ambitious; an insane amount of pressure mounted onto the already heavy shoulders of a minor. Why add more stress and give more responsibility to a child when they should be spending those vital years blossoming into their own personality? Even if they want it (which is the case for Asal), that sense of freedom only lasts so long, so one should treasure that time before it’s taken away with adulthood. The Doll mentions that Asal’s wedding is postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19, and I would hope that this extended time of thought and reflection will allow for some of that freedom before being swept up in a premature marriage.


I’m not sure I agree with young marriage, but this film does a good job of showing one person’s path into hopeful love. The family’s perspectives are interesting at that, and the short 30-minute duration makes for a welcome stay before closing with some space for thought. The Doll probably isn’t the first documentary on youthful pairings, but it’s one that fishes around the ideals and views of those whom choose to wed young, and does so fairly well.


- #TaryllBaker