on January 27, 2012
The Iranian film "A Separation" will most likely win this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and has already won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film as well as best film at the Berlin International Film Festival. "A Separation" is writer and director Asghar Farhadi's fifth film, and it's the one that will establish him as one of the world's most brilliant storytellers.
The title ostensibly refers to an urban middle class couple who have separated from each other; English teacher Simin has gotten a visa to emigrate to the West, but her husband Nader, who works in a bank, refuses to leave his father who has Alzheimer's. They have an 11-year-old daughter Termeh (played by the director's daughter) who doesn't want her parents to leave each other, and so chooses to stay with her father, knowing that Simin won't leave Iran without her.
But the title also refers to the rural-urban, traditional-modern, moral-utilitarian divides that coalesce to form the main conflict in this movie. After Simin leaves to live with her parents, Nader hires a villager named Razieh to look after his father. Looking after a male patient with dementia is too much for the pregnant Razieh, who must commute three hours to work. When Nader's father soils his pants, the profoundly pious Razieh has a crisis of faith, and seeks religious counsel to see if God will permit her to change the poor man's pants. She's underpaid and exhausted, but ultimately she's bound to the family's misfortunes by her own: her husband has lost his job as a cobbler, has to take medication for the consequent depression, and is in and out of debtors' prison. One day, Nader returns home to find Razieh absent and his father tied to the bed, and he becomes so distraught and angry that he fires Razieh by pushing her out the door. Then Nader and Simin find themselves in a hospital where they learn that Razieh has had a miscarriage. The two families entangle themselves in a legal fight to determine who was culpable for Razieh's miscarriage, and in the process dig themselves deeper and deeper into a moral conundrum.
Farhadi manages several neat tricks with this movie. "A Separation" is morally complex without being morally confusing, is dramatically tense and emotionally powerful without being melodramatic and emotionally overwhelming, and is sympathetic to all characters and viewpoints while affirming the power of truth and love.
Farhadi accomplishes this by building strong contrasts and comparisons between the three sets of characters. There's the two wives Simin and Razieh, while standing with their husbands and across from each other, nevertheless are devout to the "truth" (Simin to a modern and metaphysical "truth," Razieh to the Koran), and thus stood together throughout the film.
Then there's the two families' daughters who live in different worlds. One scene in a court of law outside the judge's chambers captures how irreconcilable this chasm really is: While waiting for their parents, Termeh is pre-occupied studying for her final exams with the help of her grandmother, while Razieh's 6-year-old daughter looks on with sad bright eyes, having never been inside a classroom and knowing she'll never get into one. But despite their differences they're both united by a child-like attachment to what is right, what is fair, and what is true - an innocence that makes them equally suffer as the film sinks into its moral murkiness.
What ultimately drives the plot of the film is the conflict between the two husbands, who are tragically alike. Razieh's husband Hodjat is consumed with anger at his poverty and powerlessness, and he becomes more volatile and violent as he seeks justice for his wife and his unborn child, but feels helpless against a modern middle class urban society that seems to have united against his family. Simin's husband Nader is consumed by pride, which ironically makes this secular man a fanatic, as he seeks to prove his innocence, even if he has to lie, conspire, and abandon his wife to do so.
Besides using vivid characterization, Farhadi also manages to balance the complexity, contradictions, and conflicts by filming minimally in interiors. Every scene is either shot inside an apartment or a hospital or a court or a school or a car. He doesn't use wide angles to allow the audience to breathe a bit, nor does he attempt to control mood with music, color, and lighting. But the film's claustrophobia works to the story's advantage, magnifying and reflecting the tension and the anxiety in the characters themselves.
What ultimately makes this movie work so well then are the individual performances of all the actors. In his book The Ends of the Earth, Robert Kaplan argues that Westerners have a misconception of Iranians as cold and aloof Muslims, while in reality they're poetic and passionate Persians - which is perhaps why they often make such gifted actors.
Towards the climax of the movie, Simin has negotiated a truce with Hodjat to pay "blood money" for the miscarriage so that the feuding can stop its downward spiral. Simin and Termeh, who is now living with her mother, go tell the good news to Nader in his apartment. Arguing that by paying he would profess his guilt, he refuses, and Simin walks out angrily. She attempts to take Termeh with her, but Termeh refuses. The 11 year-old fears his father's lies and equivocations, but above all she fears losing him, and so she tries to convince his father to take the deal. Then Nader says to her in that cold calculating manner only he's capable of: "If you think I'm guilty go get your mother, and I'll do what she wants."
Termeh's facial response powerfully captures so many hues and shades: It's at the same time loud and numb, stunned and aware, hurt and empowered. That one-second facial expression, caught between crying and laughing, reveals that if no one else has changed, she at least has. And she now knows that no matter how much she loves her father he's lost to her and to himself.
"A Separation" is a bold masterpiece of Iranian film-making.
on February 12, 2012
This is a masterful, unblinking, documentary-like description of the incredibly delicate relationships that exist between the members of any family. It should appeal to any adult who has ever a) been married; b) been a parent; c) cared for an elderly person; d) had a serious difference of opinion with a mate; e) tried to be a good person and do the right thing but was thwarted by circumstances and dilemmas; and f) tried to keep the peace at home by telling a white lie that eventually had unintended consequences.
In other words, the very mature subject matter and plot should be of interest to just about any adult anywhere in the world.
I wonder why Hollywood is incapable of making similar films. The cost is minimal, but Hollywood would have to imagine a good story, write a realistic and intelligent screenplay and refrain from explosions.
["The Kids Are All Right" did an excellent job addressing the drama of family dynamics, but it seemed unable to move the focus away from sex and lesbianism. "The Kids..." addressed only one tenth the number of adult issues that "A Separation" does. I wonder if Hollywood is still capable of complex adult family drama.]
The subtitles were not distracting at all.
The sympathetic depiction of Alzheimer's and its effects on all family members is very real, but not at all "in your face".
When living in Cairo for five years our family resided in three separate apartment buildings similar to those in this film. From time to time we'd hear a domestic dispute underway somewhere in the building, and, because the raised voices were in Arabic, we could only imagine what the dispute was about. This film showed me that what was going on in those Cairo apartments was similar to what happens in just about any American home at some point in time.
Strangely, after the movie ended, the entire audience remained sitting watching the lengthy credits which were in untranslated Farsi. Clearly the audience was stunned by the intensity of the story. You will be stunned as well.
on February 19, 2012
This film is a masterpiece.
Many reviews have already given away the plot, but in essence this film is about the difficulties of life in Iran told through the misfortune of a split family who get into a bad situation that enables the director to tell the story of lower middle class Iranian life.
The wife wants to move abroad, the husband wants to stay because of his demented father. The daughter is caught in the middle. The family struggle with home help.
There is a twist in the story, which I shall not reveal, but when I saw this film, it was the only film I have ever seen where the entire audience waited through the WHOLE end credit sequence to witness the twist.
Brilliant, educated cinematography.
on March 3, 2012
A Separation, an Iranian film written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, is an intricate family drama set in current-day Tehran. It won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for 2011, and was also nominated for Academy's Best Original Screenplay Award as well.
The film begins with a couple explaining to a judge why they want a divorce. Simin (Leila Hatami) wants to emigrate to another country where she feels they can have a better life for themselves and, more importantly, for their daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi). They had filed the needed paperwork months ago and recently it finally came through. But her husband Nader (Peyman Mooadi), who had previously been agreeable to the idea, refuses to go, ostensibly because of his father who is suffering from Alzheimer's and now needs someone with him at all times. Simin, fearing the opportunity may never come again, is determined to go regardless and wants to take Termeh with her. But under Iranian law, she needs Nader's permission for that and he refuses to give it. So they feel that divorce is the only option left to them. The judge says that this is insufficient grounds for a divorce and refuses to approve their request, leaving them without any resolution to their problem. Simin, who had been looking after Nader's father, leaves their home and moves in with her family, while Termeh, who is in school, stays.
Their conflict becomes further complicated when Nader tries to find someone to look after his father while he is away at work. He cannot afford a professional caretaker, so he ends up hiring a woman named Razieh (Sareh Bayet) who is a friend of a cousin of his wife's. Complications arise almost immediately. Razieh, who has a young daughter and is pregnant with her second child, is reluctant to take the job but she desperately needs the money due to her hot-headed husband, Hodjat, (Shahab Hosseini) who is not only seemingly incapable of holding a job but is also being pursued by creditors. But it is soon clear that Nader, unwilling to see just how bad his father's Alzheimer's has become, has underestimated the level of assistance his father now needs, and on the first day Razieh has to contend with Nader's father soiling himself because he no longer realizes when he needs to go. The situation quickly deteriorates over the next couple of days and ends up in an argument between Nader, who comes home and finds his father alone and tied to the bed from which he has fallen, and Razieh who had left because she needed to go to the doctor. The argument ends up with Nader forcing Razieh from his apartment, and Razieh then falling on the stairs and ending up miscarrying. This escalates the conflict between the two families, with charges and counter-charges being filed and both husbands faced with being jailed.
What makes A Separation really work is the level of complexity that Farhadi brings out in the characters. There is no black-and-white here, no simplistic good-guys vs bad guys, only ordinary human beings having to deal with the kinds of problems that people all over the world have to deal with. For the most part, all of Farhadi's characters are people who are trying their best to do what they feel the right thing is, but who nonetheless are all too humanly flawed - pride and stubbornness being first and foremost - and who are not above trying to twist things in their favor even when in their heart of hearts they know they're doing the wrong thing. In lesser hands this would have been dealt with a comedic fashion, but in Farhadi's we are presented with realistic drama that everyone can relate to from their own lives.
There is also a subtleness present in A Separation which makes it both distinctly Iranian and yet universal at the same time. The dynamics of culture permeate the film and one gets a sense of just what it means to be an ordinary Iranian without the skewing political bombast and rhetoric which is all that most people ever see. The way in which the two families end up resolving their dispute in particular illustrates how different their culture is from ours. But at the same time, the characters in A Separation are universal in their lives, their situations and their human frailties as they try to cope with the same kinds of problems that people all over the world have to contend with. In Farhadi's characters, we see ourselves and/or people we know.
Nader is, as Simin says to the divorce judge at the beginning of the film, a decent man and a good father to their daughter, the latter illustrated in scenes where he pushes Termah to be confident and stand up for herself. And you can sympathize with Nader as he finds himself increasingly crushed by the need to try and care for his father. Two brief scenes are particularly poignant. In the first, where Nader and Simin are arguing before the judge, Simin tells Nader "Your father does not even know you!", to which Nader responds "But I know him!" And later, when he is alone and trying to get his father to change his clothes, and his father is no longer even aware enough to do anything but just sit like a lump, Nader struggles with the task, his father being too heavy even for him to handle alone, and finally he just breaks down weeping, realizing the impossibility of his situation, yet holding on to his father, unwilling to let go. But for all of his good intentions, Nader is all too humanly fallible as well. In the conflict over his possibly having caused Razieh's miscarriage, he makes statements which he knows are not true, most particularly claiming not to have known that she was pregnant. And when his daughter, Termeh, catches him on this, he puts the moral burden on her, asking if she wants her father to go to jail. And later, when Termeh ends up lying to the judge to support his lie, and Nader sees what his unwillingness to admit the truth is doing to her, he still gives in to weakness and lets the lie stand rather than risk the consequences of telling the truth.
But Nader is not the only character with human weaknesses. Simin tries to use Termeh as a way of getting Nader to go along with emigrating, just as Nader is using Termeh to keep Simin from emigrating. And at the same time, Termeh tries to manipulate the situation to keep her parents from breaking up. Hodjat, who is more flawed than any other character, tries to maniuplate the situation to get the money he needs to pay off his creditors. And even Razieh, who is the only one who is truly religious, is not above telling half-lies, partly out of pride and partly out of not wanting to admit being in the wrong.
In many ways, Razieh is one of the most intricately drawn characters in A Separation and serves to counter the common perception most people have of religious Iranians. Far from being the kind of militant shouting hard-liner we are presented with in the news, Razieh is simply someone who is devout in her faith and who is truly concerned with her everyday actions being proper within Islamic tenets. In an early scene where Nader's father has soiled himself, she calls her imam to ask whether or not it is proper for her to clean him up and change his clothes (to which the imam responds that yes, given the circumstances, it is proper for her to do so). Razieh is a person for whom sin is a very real thing with very real consequences, and this matters to her, even when doing the right thing comes with a heavy price. She reminded me very much of an aunt of mine who was a very strict Catholic. Again, this works for A Separation's universality, for even in secular societies we still have people - often in our own families - to whom this sort of thing still matters, and the film presents them in a way that we can relate to.
All of the actors give excellent performances, to the point that we feel that we're watching real people going through these crises in their daily lives rather than actors following a script. Payman Mooadi's Nader reveals much through his eyes and his expression, and while he works to keep his feelings under control, we see his inner turmoil on his face, particularly in the scenes where he knows he's setting the wrong example for his daughter, and worse, allowing his own weakness to emotionally blackmail her into doing what he's always tried to teach her is wrong. The same goes for Sarina Farhadi's Termeh, whose eyes show the hurt and disillusionment she feels after she lies to the judge to support her father's lie. And Shahab Hosseini's Hodjat is a subtle performance, making an unlikeable character at least somewhat sympathetic as he rails about, blaming everyone else for his troubles, by showing him to be a man who simply has no control over himself and is constantly being undone by his emotional impulses and bad judgment.
To his enormous credit, Farhadi does not give any of his characters easy outs for their problems. They do not get sudden magical insights, nor do they receive providential rescues. They must wrestle with them the way real people do and accept that the resolution, if it comes, may be far from satisfactory. We are reminded of this as the film ends, with Nader and Simin again outside the divorce judge's office, left waiting to find out which of them Termeh will decide to go with. The audience is left not knowing any more than they do. No tiy resolution, no neat Hollywood ending, just life the way it really is for most people.
Highly, highly recommended.
A divorce in Iran isn't easy. However, if both parties agree to everything, it's possible. In this heartbreaking story, a couple has reluctantly agreed to part ways. The woman, Simin (Leila Hatami) wants to leave the country to have a "better life" for the family, especially for their beyond-her-years smart 11 year old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi, director Ashar Farhadi's daughter). The husband, Nader (Peyman Maadi) is conflicted but refuses to move due to his elderly father's Alzheimers.
Termeh decides to stay with her father which then puts the brakes on Simin's departure. Simin moves in with her family leaving Nader responsible for his father. He hires a young mother to care for the older man. The woman (Sareh Bayat) brings along her own young daughter to the man's apartment. In one scene she is morally conflicted as to whether she is allowed to change the old man's pants when he soils himself. In a clarifying point of her confliction she feels she must call the "religion" police to get a ruling. Although barely showing, Razieh is also pregnant. This is also hidden beneath her numerous layers of clothing. This becomes an important issue in the story as to whether Nader knows of her condition.
On one day, Razieh must leave for a medical appointment, so locks the old man in the apartment and ties one hand to the bedpost to keep him from wandering around. Before she can get back, Nader and Termeh return early and find the old man slumped on the floor unconscious. This leads to an ultimate confrontation. During the argument, Nader physically forces Razieh out of the apartment. While we don't see everything that happens after that, she ends up in the hospital suffering a miscarriage. Razieh and her husband inform the police and Nader is charged with murder. Interestingly in Iran this doesn't appear to be a big deal for the police and the justice system. A little "blood money" will fix everything. Well, everything but pride and the truth.
This is a complicated film full of sympathetic characters. All isn't what it seems and eventually young Termeh carries all the moral weight which she applies to all with a deft touch. The pacing of this film is a bit tedious early on, but the second half is a riveting portrayal of rifts based on age, genders, religious beliefs, class distinctions and domestic struggles. A wonderful movie and probable Oscar winner.
A SEPARATION is a film about a group of good, decent people who fall into enormous, soul-shattering ethical and legal dilemmas in part because they are trying to do good. To be righteous. To be free from sin. To take care of their children. And it all falls apart so easily, right before our eyes.
Set in modern day Iran, the issues of the film are very much rooted in that society...and yet they are universally understandable. It's a tiny story and it's a big story that speaks to everyone. It's important that the film is set in Iran, because of the laws and culture that will weigh so heavily on the main characters. But it feels surprisingly relevant and very close & credible.
The film begins as the main couple of the story, Nader & Simin, are appearing before a judge of some kind. They are intelligent, attractive, educated and fond of each other. But their lives are about to take divergent paths. Simin is asking for a divorce from her husband, because she wants to be able to leave the country with her teenage daughter, who is a bright, studious girl with a great future ahead of her in a country that doesn't put so many obstacles in front of women. Nader does not want to leave, because he feels he must stay and take care of his Alzheimer's -ridden father. Simin advocates that the father go into a home, because he doesn't know his son...and because the welfare of their daughter comes first. Simin seems both callous to her husband's desire to tend to his beloved father, and she seems completely right too. Her daughter NEEDS a chance to fulfill her promise.
The parents dote on their terrific girl. She loves them. She loves her wretched grandfather. They are a terrific if troubled family. But Simin moves out of the house, and Nader must hire a woman to tend to his father while he is at work. Razieh comes to the job from a long commute away, accompanied by her small daughter. She is likely from the country, and wears more traditional, conservative clothing. She is lower class, devote, shy and frightened by the job she has undertaken.
From this simple setup develops a complicated story of misunderstandings, cultural roadblocks, honor betrayed, legal machinations and the sickening realization that everyone is digging themselves into holes from which they cannot emerge unscathed.
I don't want to tell you anymore, because the joy of this film lies in part in discovering its secrets. All the characters, even Razieh's hot-headed husband, are mostly good people who make some small but unfortunate choices. It's a chilling film in many ways, because while the passions run hot in these characters as they fight for their souls, they must maintain a mantle of politeness and respect. Their culture demands manners, even as it prevents them from expressing what is REALLY on their minds.
This is a small story, as I said. It involves primarily two families and their troubles. Nothing that happens would ever make the news, even on a small scale. The world churns on around them, completely oblivious to their plight. And yet, for the viewer, the film quietly grabs your attention in its opening moments, and simply does not let go. In part, this is because the script (Oscar nominated) makes each and every person a distinct, fleshed-out and understandable character. If you've ever wondered what folks mean when they decry a movie's lack of character development, check out A SEPARATION. You'll understand what true characters are.
The film is brilliantly acted, as well. Every part offers juicy moments for the actors and they tear into their work. Peyman Moadi as Nader and Leila Hatami as Simin are fantastic, but no one really lags behind. Young Sarina Farhadi as the daughter Termeh is heartbreaking, and special notice must go to Ali-Asghar Shahbazi as the elderly father. He's so immersed in his role, you forget utterly that this is an actor portraying a man with Alzheimer's.
For me, 2011 was not a great year for movies. Very few moved me. THE ARTIST and THE DESCENDANTS were delightful and excellent...but did not make me lean forward in my seat in utter engrossment. Finally, A SEPARATION (even though I saw it in 2012) came along and in its subtle power, made me remember how worthwhile the wait is for a truly great movie.
on January 28, 2012
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With the release of the superb 'A Separation', director Ashgar Farhadi has done much to open peoples' eyes that Iran is a much more complex society than has generally been perceived in the West. The film's title might lead one to believe that this story is merely about the separation of a husband and wife but it's much more than that--at times I felt I was watching a Hitchcock-like thriller, with all the attendant twists and turns associated with the suspense master himself.
In a sense, the separation between Nader and Simin, the secular middle class couple who are seen at the beginning of the film in a divorce court, is the catalyst for all the stunning developments to come. Because the judge rejects Simin's application for a divorce, she returns to her parents' home and leaves Nader, along with their eleven year old daughter Termeh (magnificently played by Sarina Farhadi, the director's real-life daughter) to care for Nader's Alzheimer's-stricken father.
Nader is the film's protagonist and should be seen as an admirable and complex character. Some may view him as foolhardy to continue taking care of his father, virtually on his own, but his decision is a testament to the strength and nobility of his character. Note the subtle scene where he orders Termeh to return a tip to a gas station attendant, after the attendant fails to perform a required service, thus teaching his daughter not only the value of hard work but also to be assertive (especially in a society where women are not always encouraged to be like that).
The film's antagonist, Razieh, is also a complex character. She shows up at Nader's house with her young daughter, having agreed to work as a domestic, taking care of Nader's father. Razieh is from a lower middle class background, dresses in a conservation Chador and ends up consulting a religious phone hot line, asking for advice whether it's against Muslim religious law to wash Nader's father. Even when the Iman tells her that she's permitted to do so, she understandably has a very hard time performing such unsavory work.
Nonetheless, Razieh uses remarkably poor judgment by tying up Nader's father and leaving the home to keep a doctor's appointment. Perhaps it's her unfamiliarity with elderly people stricken with Alzheimer's, that leads her to believe that such a senile man will be okay on his own, while she leaves the home. It's also quite understandable that Nader ends up quite upset to find Razieh gone and his father on the floor, hardly breathing. When Razieh returns, he berates her, discovers money missing and concludes that she was responsible for stealing it. What Nader wasn't aware of, was that Simin had earlier paid movers with the money. Now it's Razieh's turn to become upset as she's been falsely accused of stealing the money and then makes things worse in Nader's eyes, for requesting her day's pay. We break into Act 2, when Nader pushes Razieh out the door, leading her to accuse him of causing the miscarriage of her baby.
The ensuing complications are too detailed to list here but let me say that director Farhadi has done a masterful job in chronicling the day to day operations of the Iranian justice system. Again, it's a nuanced portrait of a Judge who seems almost bored by being forced to sit through one conflicting domestic situation after another as well as revealing an attitude of inflexibility in applying the vagaries of the Iranian penal code. Nonetheless, it's not a complete kangaroo court, as investigations do seem to be ordered and there is a modicum of an attempt to ascertain the true facts.
While we do learn Nader is found to have lied to the court when he denies knowing that Razieh was pregnant, even Termeh realizes that sometimes 'white lies' are necessary and perjures herself before the Court, to ensure that her father doesn't go to prison and his life is not ruined.
Equally fascinating is Razieh's husband Hodjat's machinations in his quest for justice, which ends up more like a thirst for revenge. Hodjat represents the dark side of the Iranian populace. He's a hothead, who will take extra-judicial steps including threatening Termeh's tutor, who testified in Nader's defense. Hodjat is so menacing that the tutor even changes her testimony which jeopardizes Nader's case. Hodjat still is operating under the mistaken belief that his wife's claims are legitimate but when we learn that Razieh lost the baby because she was hit by a car (while outside looking for Nader's father who had wandered out of the house), Razieh's honor becomes much more questionable than that of her husband. After all, Razieh refuses to swear on the Koran, not because she's ashamed of accusing an innocent man, but because she fears that by testifying falsely, Allah may seek revenge on her and her daughter for her sins.
It's up to Simin to finally convince Nader to compensate Razieh's family. While Nader earlier casts Simin as someone who too easily runs away from difficult conflicts, he realizes the only way out is to compromise and pay compensation to Razieh's family. Of all the characters in the film, Simin is perhaps the most thinly drawn. Why does she want to leave Iran? Is it because she's tired of taking care of Nader's father? We don't find out that much about her but when she and Nader argue, the scenes are electric.
Justice is finally served when Razieh refuses to swear on the Koran. As the legitimacy over Razieh's initial accusation and Nader's debt to her family is resolved, the subplot concerning the pending custody of Termeh is not. We're left to guess which parent Termeh chooses to live with at film's end.
'A Separation' is a superb film which, if it only could be, should not only be nominated for Best Foreign language film but for the Academy's 'Best Picture' as well.
on February 29, 2012
An Iranian film about a couple seeking a divorce. They split, and the man stays with his ailing father, hiring a lady to care for him. Problems arise, and legal troubles ensue for the man. This is a terrific film that portrays problems that are common to couples the world over. The conservative Iranian customs bring additional concerns for women who have less control over their lives in a male dominated culture. Regardless of the locality, this was a very well-told story about a family dealing with difficulties and is an outstanding foreign film.
"A separation" is a true masterwork. A monumental canvas that carves in relief with all the requested realism, the tense situation between a couple in conflict.
The incident is revealed in the first five minutes of the film. The father of the husband suffers of Altzheimer. But against all the odds, she has bet for divorce due unbearable situation (a clever hint that suggests us many unsaid issues backstage). He refuses to accept these conditions due the irreversible condition of his father.
Thence, a set of events will take place with the sordiness that shows us many hidden codes that nestle in that country. This dramatis personae is a witty metaphor, a cry in the darkness about the human condition, and the conflict between the ethical patterns inside a crude social reality that even takes place in a world forged by laws and the dramatic facts tht surpasses the spirit of the jurisprudence.
There are many dramatic situations apart the main one and that's precisely what it makes the film worth to watch it. Don't even leaves aside this monumental masterpeiece that must be chosen as the Best Foreign film within a week at the Academy Award. Watch it before awards ceremony takes place ud and judge for yourself whether it deserves this distinction or not.
If you have doubts, ultimately, make a clck on Gooogle and give yourself a tour about the countless number of awards that this film has received worldwide.
A SEPARATION is a profoundly moving film from Iran, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, acted by a truly gifted cast of artists, and a film that dares to dig deeply into so many issues that are not only serving to enlighten the world about conditions in Iran, but also to make us each reevaluate our feelings about family, faith, love, responsibility, parenting, and surviving in a world that often seems incompatible with life as we once knew it. One of the reasons the film works so intensely well is the directors ignoring the outside influences of musical score and cinematic effects, instead relying on person to person communication in claustrophobic confines that drives the story in an almost breathless pace that heightens the drama.
Briefly, the story deals with husband and wife Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) who are arguing about living abroad. Simin prefers to live abroad to provide better opportunities for their only daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi). However, Nader refuses to go because he thinks he must stay in Iran and takes care of his father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi), who suffers from Alzheimers. So committed is Simin to make this escape from the confines and turmoil of Iran that she decides to get a divorce and leave the country with her daughter. Nadar must work at the bank to support his father and Termeh who has decided to stay home in Iran with her father, so he hires a caregiver Razieh (Sareh Bayat) who comes to work with her 6 year old daughter: Razieh is pregnant, her unemployed cobbler husband Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini) is in and out of debtors prison, and in general Hodjat and Razieh represent the agony of the struggling lower class. Razieh cannot cope with caring for the Alzheimer victim, stressors occur, Nader throws Razieh out of his house when he discovers his father's lack of care, and in the struggle Razieh has a miscarriage. The remainder of the film is the struggle between the two couples - middle class Nader and Simin and poverty lower class Razieh and Hodjat. The audience is placed in the `courtroom' (actually a simple confrontation with a judge) concerning divorce, the accident that turns a miscarriage into an accusation of murder, and the battle between the two couples, which is a battle between classes. Religious issues are raised: philosophical issues are in focus. From all of these incidents we learn more about the current standards of life in Iran than any book has shared.
It is rare when a film leaves the audience speechless. This one does. In Farsi with English subtitles. Grady Harp, August 12