A Separation (2011) Review

24 09 2012

Copyright 2011 Hopskotch Films

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I finally got around to seeing this film recently and, if you haven’t seen this one yet, stop what you are doing right now, go to the local redbox, and rent this tonight.  Seriously, it’s the best film of last year, and I don’t mind saying that in the first sentence of my review, which says a lot.

Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, this now Academy Award-winning film, stars well-known Irania actress Leila Hatami and Peyman Moadi as couple Simin and Nader.  Together, they have a adolescent daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi).  They reside in Nader’s father’s apartment, who is essentially an invalid due to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.  When Nader refuses to leave their native country and his father, Simin demands a separation, to which he readily agrees.  With Simin leaving the household, Nader hires a sitter for his father, Razieh (Sareh Bayat).  However, after having to clean up an accident his father has on her first day, she tells Nader she can no longer do the job; the drive is too far, and she has religious concerns over touching his father to clean him up if he soils himself.  She, however, recommends her husband, Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), who is out of work and deeply indebted to creditors.  The following day, when Hdjat can’t make it to the house due to a court appearance, Razieh, who is pregnant, returns with her young daughter to do the work.  However, she leaves his father unattended during the day for personal reasons.  When Nader comes home to find his father tied to a bed and nearly at a point of death, he blows up at Razieh when she returns.  The scuffle includes a slight physical interaction on his part; she, subsequently, miscarries her child.  It’s left to the court and the families to decide whether Nader is responsible.

This film, made on a minuscule budget compared to even independent American films, is a powerhouse dramatic effort.  The acting, directing, editing, cinematography, and most of all, wonderfully dramatic story, come together to create an engaging, passionate and engrossing film that will go down in history as a classic.  It’s once in a blue moon that you get to view a film that is as truly cinematic as this, and its always a special occasion that will be savored in an your mind long after it’s running time is over.

It’s films like this that renew my hope in cinema whenever the general Hollywood “fodder” has be down about the industry.  I can only hope that I can be a part of a film as special as this one day.




One response

29 09 2012

Please add to all the accolades you have showered on this outstanding work in the last two paragraphs, the multi-dimensional interpretations this movie is capable of. One such thread is traced here.

Most critics have surmised that the choice is between caring for the demented father and staying vs planning a better upbringing for their daughter and moving to Canada on an immigration visa, extended to educated Iranians, with forty days of validity left.  But a more attentive viewing of the first scene shows that Nader mentions that his reasons for not wanting to leave Iran have already been discussed, that Simin knows about them very well and that they are numerous.  Being challenged to name just one of those reasons in front of the judge, he mentions his father’s need of care.  Simin retorts immediately that this is only an excuse!  O.K., then there must be real reasons for not leaving Iran which neither partner is keen to disclose in front of the judge and of course the censors and possibly the media.  To confirm this deeper interpretation the director throws in a couple of clues in the last scene at the divorce hearing, to show that the forty days deadline for the visa is over and the father who had heart-lung problem beside being demented has already passed away.  And yet the divorce is going ahead and Termeh is asked to choose sides.

In fact the real reason for separation, which is widening all the time, is revealed during the course of the film. Nader is a principled and patriotic guy who wants to stand up for a just society, facing all challenges and difficulties whether internal or external.  Where as he sees Simin of being a coward who tries to flee the country and not stand up to the challenges.  Nader obviously does not think that Termeh would get a better upbringing by leaving for life in Canada attached to a cowardly, though loving, mother who pays her way out of obstacles (the piano scene) instead of standing up for what is right (the gas station scene). He has come to doubt if Canadian free ‘education’ is worth the political apathy and hedonism being nurtured by politicians and the mainstream media in countries of North America?  Should telling lies be a monopoly of politicians, while the young are kept innocent only to become future compliant voters? Or would Termeh really grow up to be a better citizen when she learns that even his morally correct father may be hiding some partial truth from the magistrate, in order to be able to fulfill his duties towards an ailing father (read Fatherland) and his young daughter (read the next generation).  In her turn she chooses to tell an obvious lie in order to help his father to survive to help build the country into a better place for Simin to return to.

Off course the movie deals with many other fundamental issues that we can go into if need be.

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