For women, hope is the day she will be seen...

"Kandahar," is a sometimes-expressionistic drama about a disguised Afghani woman, Canadian reporter Nafas, trying to get to the city of Kandahar to stop her sister from committing suicide during the next solar eclipse.(Actress Nelofer Pazira went through a similar struggle).

Because the plot is thin and the naturalistic acting frequently distracting, this is not great drama. What is great is Ebraham Ghafouri’s magnificent cinematography. A shot of artificial legs dropping from the sky by parachute, with peasants running on crutches to retrieve them, is the most profound I have seen this year. The opening aerial shot of the dense mountains juxtaposed with the white desert and colorful burka veils is another immensely pleasing visual.

Unsettling for a Westerner would have to be the pervasive poverty, misogyny, and land mines. And this film is before 9/11.

Emphasizing the need for change in a seemingly changeless culture, one character says, "For women, hope is the day she will be seen." The film allows us to hope for that change. When one character says, "Weapons are the only modern thing in Afghanistan," the savagery of lost limbs and starving children is underscored and unforgettable.

To enter Kandahar, women and men hide under veils with often harrowing results. The director sends light through holes in the burka, a wholly new way to use point of view and to symbolize imprisoned women. But visuals are all this film really has, for character development and engaging plot are as arid as the desert.