Background information I found that I think is relevant to appreciating the movie:
The Hazari are an ethnic group from Afghanistan who fled to Iran when the Taliban took over Afghanistan. While the Hazari can be traced to living in Afghanistan as long as any other Afghan ethnic group, they have distinct facial features that set them apart (generally looking very 'Asian' by American standards). Because of this, many consider them outsiders. As well, they're mostly Shi'ites, which differentiates them from the overwhelming majority of Sunni Muslims. In 2001 (when this film was made), the Taliban openly targeted the Hazari people and burned down villages across the Hazarajat region. When this happened, Hazari people fled where they could, and many went to Iran. Since living in Iran, many Hazari have complained of being mistreated and taken advantage of (much like the immigrants of USA). Many work difficult manual labor jobs for extremely low pay. That's where this film comes in.
[if you're curious, read this National Geographic article: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/02/afghanistan-hazara/phil-zabriskie-text]
The movie takes place in Iran at a worksite where a boy, Lateef, is working the easy job. Once a younger boy comes along, however, he is made to do the harder work and the younger boy takes his tea making and cooking job. He tries to sabotage the new boy's work but soon realizes there's more to the situation than he originally thought and changes drastically in how he chooses to interact. He realizes the magnitude of his actions and that people face bigger problems than he does. I don't want to reveal what I didn't know at first (even though it's written in almost every quick plot synopsis) so ... I would say just watch it.
Definitely a coming-of-age story as well as a love story. I didn't realize the first time through who the characters were exactly, but after round 2, it becomes more apparent and the story gets even better. After watching it a second time, it seriously gets waaay better. So it's certainly a movie worth watching just because it's an investment in good movies to watch over and over.
It's got a wonderfully slow pace, which may be difficult to watch at first, and is comforting in its beauty. It was a great way to look into specific groups of people that I had no idea had such a complex relationship in society. If you really need another reason to watch this movie, watch it to see how Afghan (specifically Hazari) and Iranians interact together as well as apart. The Iranian setting is beautiful in every scene, and the emphasis the movie puts on sound is really unique. I'd definitely have to watch it again to catch on more of the importance in the soundtrack, but it was noticeable enough to pick up on the first time through.
Gender is a very interesting part of the movie that is brought up. I don't really want to talk too much about it because there's too many cultural and situational things that I'd rather not comment on, but simply found interesting.
Best part of the movie? In the last scene, there's a great and very subtle combination of visual and audio that was extremely successful in what it had to express. Subtlety is this movie's greatest asset, truly.
So .. total? About a 9/10. Though I probably didn't really understand what was going on, it was so beautiful and gets better each time I watch it.
** Might I also add that Baran means 'Rain' which is pretty important to the last shot in the movie (or really.. the whole movie).