An Iranian man deserts his French wife and her two children to return to his homeland. Meanwhile, his wife starts up a new relationship, a reality her husband confronts upon his wife's request for a divorce.
A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease.
Leila and Reza meet in a kind of celebration and fall for each other. Having discovered their love, they get married soon only to find out the infertility of Leila. That's when Reza's ... See full summary »
Shirin is supposed to get married in a couple of hours, but she unexpectedly murders a man. The cause of the crime, rooted in her nightmarish childhood, unravels gradually and the real question emerges: Who is the REAL criminal?
Ghasem (Hamid Farokhnezhad) with his wife, Narges (Leila Hatami), his mother and other relatives and parents take a flight to Bandar Abbas, to get hired in an industrial company. Since the ... See full summary »
Maryam (Negar Javaherian) and Reza (Shahab Hosseini) are different from other people, it's not just a simple difference, but a very big difference. They must try to prove to others they ... See full summary »
Somewhere, in Afghanistan or elsewhere, in a country torn apart by a war... A young woman in her thirties watches over her older husband in a decrepit room. He is reduced to the state of a ... See full summary »
Hamoon's wife is leaving him. He is also unsuccessfully trying to finish his Ph.D. thesis. He is forced to reexamine his life. In a series of flashbacks and dreams, Hamoon tries to figure ... See full summary »
Dr. Alam, a very profiled specialist in neurology and a successful surgeon, is drowned in his professional and social work, in a way that he has totally forgotten all about his son Saman. ... See full summary »
On the last Wednesday before the spring solstice ushers in the Persian New Year, people set off fireworks following an ancient Zoroastrian tradition. Rouhi, spending her first day at a new job, finds herself in the midst of a different kind of fireworks -- a domestic dispute between her new boss and his wife.
Akbar has just turned eighteen. He has been held in a rehabilitation centre for committing murder at the age of sixteen when he was condemned to death. Legally speaking, he had to reach the... See full summary »
Ali is son of a well-off family who plays santoor (an Iranian instrument like dulcimer) and has earned some reputation through his concerts and teaching music but is rejected by his family ... See full summary »
A group of middle-class friends travel from Tehran to spend the weekend at the seaside. Sepideh invites Elly, who is her daughter's teacher, to travel with the three families in order to introduce her to their recently divorced friend Ahmad, now living in Germany. The next morning, the two women go shopping in the town and Elly says that she has to return to Tehran because her mother has been recently submitted to hospital for heart surgery, but Sepideh asks her to stay and hides her luggage. The children are playing in the sea and one mother asks Elly to watch them. Out of the blue, Sepideh's daughter calls to some men playing volleyball to rescue one of the children from the water. After rescuing the little boy they seek out Elly, questioning whether she has drowned or returned to Tehran. What has happened to Elly? Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When they decide to stay in the villa and start to clean it, Ahmad calls the boy (Omid) by name asking him about where he can find a vacuum cleaner. Seconds later, he asks the boy about his name. See more »
A bitter ending is better than an endless bitterness.
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a mystery of happenstance - and a matchless masterpiece at that
To say the most important thing first: 'All about Elly' requires unmitigated attention from the viewer. I actually watched it in the Berlin Festival last year, but didn't think too much of it as I was distracted. Since it won the Silver Bear and was voted by Iranian critics the best national film ever, I decided to give it another shot on DVD, and as it works sometimes, I realized that this film is not only a true gem, but one of those rare, timeless classics that may help to explain to posterity the reality of generations past.
What lulled me into a mistaken sense of boredom upon my first viewing was the unassuming start of the film. The simplicity of the plot - a group of young Tehrani couples going on a seaside weekend trip, with one of the wives trying to act as a matchmaker between a female colleague and an expat on vacation from Germany - is presented in such low-key fashion that if you don't know what's coming (and I didn't) it's hard to focus on the subtle hints of possible conflict. Also, while I've been to Iran and consider myself vaguely familiar with the complexities of life there, of course as a mere visitor you can catch but a fraction of what things mean, and since this is very much a jump into an unknown society, you really have to blank your mind to catch the drift of what the characters say.
Ironically, that's a stark contradiction to the usual Iranian festival fair: Kiarostami works a lot with metaphor (which he often endlessly repeats to drive the message home), Panahi with situation developments (which he exploits to the utmost degree to drive the message home), and therefore their works do not require much background info, though it sure helps. Farhadi's film asks for a bit more audience participation, as much of the conflict in the second half of the film stems from Iranian social reality, I would think. That is what, on my second viewing, convinces me of the timeless quality of this film: never before have I seen a director pull so much substance out of so little plot and setting.
Just because 'All about Elly' appears to be simple at first, it is actually really deep; once I suspected that every frame in this film means something and is not just there, I entered an alternate visual language, which then communicated the urgency of what Elly's disappearance meant to me. I felt that this film thereby manages to tell me emotionally what I could rationally never fully comprehend: what it means to actually live in a country like that. No other film from Iran has ever done that for me, and I've rarely seen a film from another culture that managed to do so. So I would assume that Farhadi has taken directing to another level here.
What's more: this isn't just a very artistic way to convey a message, it's also very entertaining. For once I was drawn into the characters, their sense of alarm and suspense kept me on the edge until the very end. There's a decent dose of Hitchcock in 'All about Elly' as unreal as that may sound. That's the real charm of this film: although it's demanding in terms of familiarity with the setting, it's international in its depiction of emotions anyone from anywhere can relate to.
In conclusion: Definitely not to be missed if you are just as much as remotely interested in Iran, or have a sweet tooth for excellent direction (though the French term 'mise-en-scène' hits the mark in this case). This is the kind of movie that should become part the curriculum of film students around the globe.
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