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If mainstream cinema leaves you soulless, see this film.
If you have a modicum of intelligence, see this film.
If you like great acting and directing, see this film.
If you like great writing and editing, see this film.
If you have an interest in law, see this film.
If you are a parent, see this film.
A Separation is not harrowing or depressing. Fear not as I did before. If you don't like subtitles, you will forget they are there. Do not read any more detailed reviews. Go without preconception. A Separation deserves all the plaudits it is getting and deserves a much wider audience. Minimalistic and economic, a Separation is one of the finest, most chiselled pieces of cinema of this millennium.
Caught "A Separation" in Amsterdam last night, fully unprepared for its
greatness. I hadn't been swept off my feet for a while, but this
Iranian Hitchcockian drama sucked us in for 123 minutes and left us
very, very impressed.
I'm mainly writing this review to assure every non-Iranian IMDb-reader that you absolutely SHOULD see "A Separation". I will be shocked if this movie doesn't win an Academy Award. The acting is great, and the script is probably the best I've seen in five years. The genius of Asghar Farhadi's story is that it piles on the tension and drama without resorting to fireworks, trickery or shock and awe plot effects. It also manages to perfectly balance the plights of several protagonists. Very few screenwriters have this capacity.
If this movie reminds me of anything, it is "Ladri di Biciclette" (Bicycle Thieves), which has a similar seemingly "simple" story setup. But then "A Separation" is much more developed, much more complex, much richer. Go see it.
Asghar Farhadi's new film after the ingenious 'About Elly' is running
for the Golden Bear at this year's Berlin Film Festival and, with half
of the competition done and the rest of the program not looking too
promising, appears to be an almost inevitable winner. Although maybe it
won't for that very reason: Jahar Panahi's repeat inability to attend
his jury duties because of Iran's government refusal to issue him a
travel permit, a retrospective of his works including the 2006 Silver
Bear-winning 'Offside', a variety of other Iranian productions and
renewed demonstrations in Iran proper put the spotlight firmly on that
country's elaborate, yet constrained film industry. All that buzz may
outshine the film's artistic value, and prompt the jury to go for a
less favored competitor. I should hope not, for Farhadi manages once
again to embed lots of social criticism into a straight-laced,
As in 'About Elly', the story begins rather unassumingly and takes an abrupt turn into a spiral of increasingly dramatic events: Nader and Simin are a couple about to break up over the question of moving abroad, for which they have obtained a permit after waiting for 18 months. Nader, however, has his father to take care of, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. Sirin still wants to leave, but not without her daughter (yes, pun intended) Termeh, a somewhat shy, bespectacled 11-year-old who cannot accept her parents' break-up. She therefore decides to stay with her father, which prompts Simin not to leave the country, but move to her mother. Nader is thereby forced to hire someone to take care of his dad, and a colleague of Sirin recommends the pregnant Razieh. Being deeply religious, she should not work in a single man's household, but her husband has been out of a job for a long time and is threatened with jail by his creditors. Her pregnancy and the necessity to attend to her daughter additionally stress her out. When Nader comes home one day to find his father left alone and tied to his bed, a struggle with the returning Razieh ensues, with catastrophic consequences for everyone around...
This is a much more complicated set-up than in 'About Elly', but it allows Farhadi to put a lot of additional information into his film as may be obvious to those who are just trying to follow the story (I hesitate to give examples because the film is as of yet to be released in Iran, which means an open-source comment such as this one needs to be carefully phrased). Much of the action takes place in courtrooms, where judges try to negotiate between the parties without any lawyers present. There's a lot of familiarity, and also a lot of menace, which succeeds to create the same climate of anxiety, accusation and deceit as in 'About Elly'. The realism of the narrative is embedded into a carefully planned scenography which makes almost every shot linger in the memory. And as in 'About Elly' the decisive moment, the one that solves the mystery is omitted in the picture, only to be explained verbally at the very end.
What makes me feel even more for this film is the fact that it might be the last film of its kind from Iran for some time. Ali Samadi Ahadi, the German-Iranian director of the comedy 'Salami Aleikum' and the upcoming documentary on the July 2009 protests 'The Green Wave', wrote that the film industry has come to a virtual standstill. 'Nader and Simin' was in development at the time of the protests; since then, regulations have become far more repressive, with even established masters like Kiarostami or Makhmalbaf forced to work abroad, and others threatened with jail and work prohibitions, of whom Panahi is only the most famous example. All the more reason to give this film the credit it deserves - winning Berlin may cause Iran's bureaucrats to reconsider, for cinema is almost the last link remaining to our world. Without film, how could we understand that Iranians are a modern people with issues like our own, and not dangerous fanatics as some media and politicians would have us believe?
It seems that a court room drama could be the best place for Frahadi to
recreate his very own world and confront us with a short and somehow
faraway situations and incidents in life. We think these kinds of
happenings and conflicts would not take place in our lives but with his
realistic world and characters they seem so close and possible to
anyone. Asghar Farhadi loves to put his audience in place of judge, as
his other pictures like About Eli or Fireworks Wednesday and here with
no fear he takes us straight to a court room. But the thing is that the
judge does not provide any help for us to make a clear judgment and
surprisingly makes the situation even more complicated. Yes Farhadi
doesn't want us to make a judgment, He makes us watch and observe and
leave the theater with a big fork in front of us.It Seems that any
single decision creates another world full of forks and not taken ways.
when nobody is clearly guilty and the line between black and white is so dim. And again here we are in Frhadi's powerful hands surprised to the end of the movie. You can't leave your chair even for one second because the story never lets you to lose even a single moment. And like a tennis ball we're always being shot from this side to the other. And finally we are the daughter shocked and disable to make a decision. May be we haven't seen or we don't want to see this side of life, where nothing is clear, when small lies and unimportant undone things and unsaid words gang up against us and turn to a big disaster. Frahadi has found his own world and his own language and his own version of life. Something we'd never seen before. We appreciate that. He can easily bombard us with information and surprise us with tiny details that seem nothing but like a snowball rolling down a slope they can form a big drama.
I'm an Iranian, but I've never been interested in Iranian cinema. I
only watch Iranian films when they win awards or receive international
recognition. I'm a fan of Kiarostami and Majidi, but I can't really say
that I like all of their films. I watched Farhady's previous film
(About Elly) about a year ago, and the first thing which struck me was
how culturally detached the movie was in its depiction of an event. At
the time, I believed this to have been the cause of this director's
success. Watching Nader and Simin, however, proved that I was terribly
Asghar Farhady's obsession with the concept of judgment is once again the driving force behind his latest feature. The life-like depiction of the Iranian courtroom (which is in no way impartial) places the audience in the Judge's seat from the very beginning. The extremely believable acting and insanely complex script compel the viewer to make up his/her mind just like when reading a court case. As for the screenplay, I'm almost certain the events in this film actually happened in real life, because in no way could one fabricate such a chaotically complex series of events, so beautifully woven into a coherent whole.
Despite being very Iranian in its narrative style and its depiction of Iranian culture (the sanctity of Family, faith, commitment towards parents and married life), I believe that this film could easily appeal to the Western audiences just like a film by Inaritu or Haneke (although I'm pretty sure it won't be nominated for an Oscar for political reasons).
After seeing About Elly, I thought Farhady's success was just a one-time fling, but coming out of the theater, having watched Nader and Simin, I was proud to have another Iranian director added to my international list of favorites.
This is the first Iranian film I've seen, and I'm recommending it to every-one I know. It is so well-crafted; the twists of the plot throw up new moral dilemmas for all the protagonists, which are explored sensitively and without judgement - so refreshingly unlike mainstream American films. I felt sympathy for all the characters, even the threatening Hodjat, full of misplaced rage which often erupts volcanically. And as a footnote, the film felt like an intimate view into a society that our news media portray as monochromatic and extremely foreign. (I am writing this a few days after the UK embassy in Tehran was ransacked)
And it comes from Iran. The first thing you read on the screen is "In
the name of God". Well, anyway it's the best story, the best cutting,
the best actors you've seen for long. And few films are that
stomach-turning, although there's hardly any physical violence.
A wife wants to go abroad. Her husband can't because he wants to take of his senile father. The wife moves and the husband hires a woman to look after his father.
And then the screw turns, although most of the story takes place in everyday Iranian life. The center of it all is perhaps the daughter, who is nearly teared apart. But it takes time until you realize that. Anyway, I can almost guarantee you sit the film through, until the final post-texts has passed.
So amazingly clever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've never seen an Iranian move but the country has a rich movie
culture that has broken through with A Separation which won the Golden
Bear, best actor and best actress awards at Berlin earlier this year.
And I can understand why.
Don't go expecting lavish cinematography, this is shot on hand held cameras, or certainly on fairly shaky tripods throughout, often under the harsh glare of fluorescent lighting that throws a watery blue cast over the action at times. But that is highly appropriate because this movie has a creeping sense of voyeurism throughout as the intensely private happenings of a family, and perhaps country, in turmoil steadily build up into a furious climax.
The plot is complex to say the least, but one can keep up by fully concentrating on each twist and turn of this micro-thriller.
The oppression of the Koran in this staunchly Muslim country carries a heavy burden throughout the film and it's the most frequently used prop as one of the characters in particular, the victim of a central crime, seeks spiritual guidance throughout. It's importance and oppression is palpable.
The story concerns the vain attempts of a wife (superbly acted by Leila Hatami) to leave Tehran with her husband to improve the life of their 12 year old daughter. But the husband cannot force himself to leave his Alzheimer's afflicted father behind and so stalemate ensues and divorce becomes the only alternative, this results in a separation and so the father (played to perfection by Peyman Moaadi) is forced to hire a nurse to look after his desperately sad father during the day.
One thing leads to another and inadvertently the husband pushes the nurse so that she ends up aborting her child.
This sets off a horrendous chain of events that I will not reveal here for fear of spoiling it for you.
Suffice to say the tension mounts throughout the movie and culminates in a heartbreaking decision for the couple's 12 year old daughter that is resolved in a way that Michael Hanneke would applaud vigorously.
This movie deals with important themes of family loyalty (more than love), duty, the oppression and folly of religion and pride.
Without overbearing pride much of the consequences of this film would not happen. Time and again you silently shout at the screen "just do the right thing and this mess will be resolved." They never do.
It could almost be played for laughs so farcical are the the situations the main protagonists find themselves in. But this is no comedy, far from it. It's a tearjerker and feels bitterly real, believable and often futile.
It's as good as its billing. See it.
I think this movie is the savior of Iranian cinema.Asghar Farhadi is a smart director and all of his movies are talking about Iranian society. Nowadays religious intolerance is the main problem of Iranian society and Farhadi decided to show this matter in his latest film.We have to appreciate him because at the age of poor Iranian movies we have a brilliant movie on screens. About the actors , that is the second experience of Peyman Moaadi who had seen before in last Farhadi's film (About Eli 2009), but he acted more professional than he is , as an intolerant person and doesn't let his family to go to abroad. About actresses , Leila Hatami & Sareh Bayat performed unconventionally great and I think that was the most important movie that they have ever acted in. I hope it will win the Best Foreign Language Film title in 84th Academy Awards. Good Luck for Iranian Movies , Directors , Actors & Actresses and .....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In Tehran, the teacher Simin (Leila Hatami) has requested the divorce
from her husband, the bank clerk Nader (Peyman Moadi). Simin wishes to
live abroad to give a better life to her eleven year-old daughter
Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) and Nader, who is a family man but very
arrogant, wants to stay to take care of his father (Ali-Asghar
Shahbazi) that has Alzheimer. Simin moves to the house of her mother
and Nader hires the religious Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to take care of his
father while he is working.
Razieh is pregnant but she does not tell her husband Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), who owes a large amount to the creditors, that she is working. When she arrives with her daughter Somayeh (Kimia Hosseini)at Nader's house, she distracts and Nader's father goes to the street and she goes and gets him back home. On the next day, when Nader arrives home with Termeh, they find Nader's father tied up to his bed and Razieh and Somayeh are not at home. When they arrive at home, Nader accuses Razieh of theft and expels her. Razieh feels offended and argues with him, and Nader pushes her out at the front door. Razieh falls and has an abortion. She goes to the court with her husband and the witnesses are summoned to testify.
"Jodaeiye Nader az Simin" or the separation of Nader and Simin, is among the best Iranian films I have seen and is a fantastic drama that shows how flawed mankind is, no matter in Iran, Brazil, Europe or wherever. Despite the different values of the Iranian society comparing with the Westerns ones, all the characters are flawed; therefore, the plot is realistic. Nader is a family man that loves his father and his daughter, but commits perjury, is stubborn and arrogant and asks his acquaintances to lie. Simin uses the secret that Razieh had told her to take advantage. Termeh lies to save her father from justice. Razieh is religious and worried with Allah and sins, but she was capable to lie fearing the reaction of her husband. Hodjat is a rude and impulsive man that is violent.
The direction is perfect and the acting is top-notch. The story is engaging and believable and differences of cultures between Iran and Brazil are intriguing. I really recommend this film for any cinema lover or people interested in learning a little about the Iranian culture. My vote is ten.
Title (Brazil): "A Separação" ("The Separation")
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