Iranian drama, winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards and Golden Globes, and Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival 2011. Opens Thursday 19 April, click for movie times.
‘Joy’ might not be the right word to describe a film as emotionally distressing as Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation, but there is certainly an element of elation that comes with witnessing a work that’s as spellbindingly effortless in its construction as this. Unique in its religious and political quandaries, yet highly accessible in its domestic and personal realities, the film is a richly told modern-day Iranian tale that avoids conclusive notions of right and wrong for a more complex, thoroughly unpredictable narrative that probes class struggles, Rashomon-esque distortions of truth and basic human decency.
Farhadi’s script delineates all his characters with grace and depth. While it initially seems like the focus would remain on the divorce between well-off middle class couple Simin and Nader, and the future of their 11-year-old daughter Termeh, the story gathers tension with the introduction of Razieh, a caretaker hired to look after Simin’s ailing, Alzheimers-stricken father. Her character too assumes significance in the ensuing crises, which unfolds with a score-less, thrilling naturalism that envelops the viewer.
A Separation gives us a fascinating window into particularly foreign processes of Iran, such as a head-scratchingly loose justice system that involves one dude in a tiny, stuffy, crowded room calling the shots, or the way religion plays a substantial role in illuminating “truth” and otherwise mundane everyday decisions. But above all, it’s a riveting, enormously resonant and impressively acted human drama with characters whose increasingly fraught and complicated dynamics are ultimately universal.