The title of Milad Alami’s striking debut The Charmer might describe the film itself. And on the surface it is indeed a gentle, well-mannered and elegant affair, but its caustic undertow, which becomes increasingly apparent, ends up making the viewer angry about a world that seems hell-bent on finding divisions where there need be none.
Tracing the struggles of Esmail, an Iranian immigrant in Denmark, to become a Danish citizen by using the perhaps misguided strategy of sleeping with many women, The Charmer is an elegantly reflective and uncomfortable denouncement of the life Esmail has had inflicted upon him – a distorted, inverted life in which the shattering phrase, “I can’t marry you, because I love you,” rings horribly and absolutely true. […] Ardalan Esmaili […] imbues the character with a haunted fragility, never allowing the viewer to forget that he’s the victim of an unjust system which, having consigned him to second-class citizenship, is determined to keep him there.
Martin Dirkov’s score is spare, plangent string-based fare, in line with lenser Sophia Olsson’s austere, sometimes claustrophobic and always tonally muted visuals.
Jonathan Holland, The Hollywood Reporter