Thursday, February 09, 2012

A Separation

In the succinct opening scene of A Separation, an intense family drama from Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, a handsome married couple argue before an unseen judge. The wife Simin wants to emigrate & raise their young daughter outside of Iran. The husband Nader refuses to leave, because it would mean abandoning his elderly father, who is stricken with Alzheimer's. This is just the starting point for the film's exquisite plot, in which each development makes you shift your interpretation of the characters. Nader hires a woman to look after his father, but when the father soils himself, she calls a religious hotline to ask if it would be a sin for her to change his clothes. Even though no one behaves out of deliberate malice, the stakes keep escalating, & the consequences are devastating. The camera stays close to the actors' faces & puts the audience right in the middle of the film's many clashes. We also get a keen glimpse into a crowded judicial system. The sense of urgency never lets up. When the final credits began to roll, many in the audience gasped. Afterward, I had to sit over a cup of coffee to decompress before I could find my way home.

§ A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin) (2011)
Asghar Farhadi, writer & director
123 min, Iran

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