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This is one of the very rare movies that manages not to paint the world
in black and white. It shows how the personal situations of different
individuals as well as their emotions can lead to actions that they
later regret. There is no good or bad, the characters are just human,
and in their way they are all right and wrong at the same time.
I very much appreciated the complete lack of stereotypes. The story is a very contemporary one about a divorce, like it could have happened anywhere in the world. Being set in Iran the movie gives an insight into everyday life there, but lets the viewer absorb the impressions without pointing finger. To me it corresponded very well to the Iran I have seen.
¨What is wrong is wrong, no matter who said it or where it's written.¨
Critics have been raving about this Iranian film and after finally
getting the chance to see it I can see why they were so pleased with
this social drama. It is a very well told story with great
performances. Filmed mostly with a hand-held camera, the movie feels
very authentic and real. At moments you forget you are seeing a movie,
and feel like you are watching a real family with real problems.
Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, knows what he is doing and delivers a
near perfect film. He captures a glimpse of an Iranian family and lets
the camera tell the story. What at first seems like a movie that's
going to focus on the separation between the husband and wife later
becomes more complicated and interesting when the main character is
charged for murder and we see the way the Iranian law system works. We
also experience how the entire situation affects the different members
of the family. I also liked the final reveal near the ending as I
wasn't sure how the story was going to pay out, and it worked really
well. Most foreign films tend to deal with social issues since these
movies are cheaper to make and they don't count with the costly
productions that Hollywood films have to create spectacular visual
effects and action scenes. That is why more emphasize is put on the
storytelling in order to capture the viewer's attention. The
storytelling here is the center of the movie and we truly care for what
the characters are going through. We can relate to these people despite
their different culture and beliefs. They have to deal with similar
issues that most families need to deal with, and that is what makes A
Separation a universal movie.
Nader (Peyman Moadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) are getting a divorce because Simin wants to leave Iran and find better job opportunities in another country. They have been waiting over a year for their Visa to go through and once they finally get it Nader decides he doesn't want to leave the country because he has to take care of his father (Ali Asghar Shahbazi) who has Alzheimer. Simin won't leave without her daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi), but she wants to stay with her father since she knows that if she stays her mother won't leave. Simin ends up moving to her mother's home and since she's gone Nader has to find someone that can take care of his father while he is at work. He hires a pregnant lady named Razieh (Sareh Bayat) who stays at the house while he's off to work. Razieh is very religious and she doesn't feel like she should be working at an adult male's home, but she has to take the job since her husband, Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), is in debt and without work. One day Nader arrives home only to find the door locked and no one answering. He finds a spare key and enters his home only to find his father lying on the floor tied to the bed. Nader unties his father and gives him respiration and fortunately he survives. In the middle of the chaos, Razieh returns to the house and Nader is so furious that he pushes her out of the door. The next day Nader is called to court since Razieh loses her baby and wants to charge him for murder. This is where the mystery of what really happened begins as both sides try to prove their point.
A Separation recently won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign film and rightfully so because it's a powerful film. It will probably be one of the nominated films for the Oscars, and as much as I liked this movie I still didn't find it as powerful as other foreign films I've seen such as City of God, The Prophet, and The Secret in Their Eyes. This Iranian film is still great, but I don't think it would be on my top 5 list of the year. It's still a strong and memorable movie and probably the best foreign film of the year. The performances are also really great, I really loved these characters and they had real good material to work with. For those people who think everything in Iran has to do with terrorism, then they should definitely see this movie and realize that most Iranians are just normal citizens like everyone else. The one thing that director Farhadi does seem to criticize about his country is the way that the law system works. There aren't any lawyers involved, every man has to defend himself in front of a judge like if they were having a normal conversation. A Separation is a great film and no wonder it became the first ever film to win three Bears from the Berlin International Film Festival. This film is worth checking out, and I would really like to see Farhadi's previous work since I wasn't familiar with him before this.
Asghar Farhadi amazes me. When I first heard about "About Elly" I
wasn't sure what it was going to be like but when I sat down to watch
the movie I was literally blown away by the writing, acting and the
direction of course. Still, I wasn't sure if he could repeat the same
success with "Nader and Simin" and yet again I was blown away.
"Nader and Simin" is more than anything an experience, pretty much like 10 by Abbas Kiarostami was but with acting taking the place of realism and striking even more powerful. The plot for me didn't matter, what did, was the settings, the court scenes and how fluent and realistic every character's actions or dialogs were.
You feel for every character, you laugh and cry with all of them and still you may just as well hate them for no reason at all.
There's also the often presented questions with no answers: Who's the girl going to choose? Who took the money? Who's to blame? and ... and the answer is clear as hell, who cares? As long as there's a great story to tell and an amazing two hours to spend on a splendid product, who really cares?
All in all, I have to admit that this is cinema at its best and this movie isn't at least nominated for an Oscar for foreign language film then I'm definitely losing my whole faith in the Academy Awards for ignoring such a wonderful installment only because of political beliefs.
'A SEPARATION': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)
This year's likely winner for Best Foreign-Language film at the Academy Awards (in which it's also nominated for best original screenplay) is this Iranian drama about a couple living in Iran who separate and the complicated problems that arise because of it. It was written, produced and directed by Asghar Farhadi. The movie stars Peyman Maadi and Leila Hatami as the couple and Sareh Bayat and Sarina Farhadi in key supporting roles. The movie is an all around grade A production and a powerful realistic drama about arguments and pride and how they can easily get the best of us.
The movie revolves around Nader (Maadi) and Simin (Hatami) and their 11-year-old daughter Termeh (Farhadi). The three live in Tehran with Nader's father who has Alzheimer's disease. Simin wants to travel abroad in order to provide better opportunities for Termeh but Nader feels obligated to stay in Iran and take care of his father. So when Simin leaves home Nader is forced to hire a caregiver named Razieh (Bayat) to take care of his dad while he's at work. Many more complications and arguments arise when Razieh is hurt on the job.
The movie is said to be an honest and accurate depiction of life in Iran but I found it to be a very honest and accurate depiction of people and life in general, showing how similar we all really are. The disagreements that so easily get out of control in this movie are ones I think we can all relate to. The characters in this movie represent so many in many ways. That's where I think the movie's biggest strength is. The acting, writing and directing are all top notch and combine together to give a very real portrayal of human life and how we all interact with each other.
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1.The movie Challenges viewers by making lots of questions about "Law"
, "Judgment" ,... in their minds which can obsess one's mind for quite
a long time . These questions are formed in viewers' minds and it's
remarkable that The answers are not direct and fulsome , in other words
you can see a gray layer over the whole movie(There's no pure right and
2.The actors are completely into their roles and they represent classic roles so that they take viewers in the movie with themselves . "Asghar Farhadi" has been really cautious about all the roles and he's been able to depict the scenes very naturally and believably .
3.The pace is normal , the scenes don't bore you or flash too quickly , and it should be considered as one of it's many good points that make it a brilliant movie .
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The proliferation of major and minor awards is no result of chance, but
well earned. Almost as real-life as a documentary, "A separation" deals
out more issues than you can think of family relationship across
three generations, social class separation, religion, politics, human
frailty, selfishness and forgiving, tolerance and intolerance, rigid
stubbornness and insecurity
.the list goes on through efficiently
constructed scenes and clear, effective dialogue. The performance of
the cast is uniformly excellent.
The outwardly somewhat complicated plot and proliferation of characters can be deconstructed first into two core families of three. Middle-class Nader (Peyman Moadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami), husband and wife, plus 11-year-old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) comprise one. Working-class Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini) and Razieh (Sareh Bayat) with a 4-year-old daughter is the other. The link is through Razieh being employed as a domestic assistant to look after Nader's dementia-inflicted father when Simin moves out to her parent's in protest of Nader's refusal to emigrate, placing the aged father's welfare before the daughter's future. A seasoned moviegoer would immediately see the vast dramatic potentials in this family for the script-writer and director.
With the other family, the predicaments are familiar: a husband who cannot control his temper fails repeatedly to hold on to a job (remember "Airport"?) and turns anti-society, debtors constantly on their back, and a long suffering wife who is pregnant. The key plot element, the conflict between these two families, starts with Razieh's negligence on the job and escalates to her losing the baby and charging Nader with murder, as the foetus is more than a certain number of days old.
While I mentioned Rashomon in my summary line, there is no contrived, convoluted plot. The gradual revelation of what really happened is matter-of-fact. The plot line is not the end, but only the means to anchor all the various human issues I mentioned. Throughout the movie, you'll be completely absorbed in the hopes and fears, aspirations and woes of these people, not because they are melodramatic but because they are convincing. And you'll talk about it long after the movie ends.
This latest Oscar Best Foreign Film is a must-see.
This film is highly recommended.
Divorce is always a messy business. People who once loved now lash out at each other with an intensity that rivals the pain, hate tends to envelop each word, and every family members' lives are inexplicably changed. Sometimes time can heal the suffering and happiness can eventually be found, but that seems the rarest of commodities. In this year's well-earned Oscar-winning foreign film, A Separation, that possibility seems almost non-existent.
Throughout our world, we rely on the court system to handle the legal and monetary matters and are left to personally handle the emotional toll as we access the damage we inflict on each other. Laws are made to protect its citizens from harm or injustice. And yet, sometimes these statutes have an opposite polarizing effect on its people. There was a time, in our own country, when women could not vote, alcohol was illegal, and education was deemed separate but equal. ( Granted, there still are disparities in our legal system, when same sex marriage is not sanctioned, woman's rights are again being questioned, and immigration laws are punishable, but let's try to stay on task. ) Any country must amend the laws and change its archaic rules if its society is to prosper. In this multi-layered drama, the Iranian court system is taken to task in a film so innovative and neo-realistic in its direct approach to a common problem experienced by many families.
A Separation presents authentic characters with all of their human weaknesses suddenly thrown into dire situations that totally engage the movie-going audience in such a honest and straight forward way. In Asghar Farhadi's gripping Iranian import, the law sets up deliberate legal and moral repercussion in its separate but unequal treatment of a family caught in an unjust and emotional dilemma.
Nader ( Peyman Maadi ) and Simin ( Leila Hatami ) are faced with problems that are tearing apart their marriage. Simin wants a better life for her daughter, Termeh, and wants to move away to another country while her disagreeing husband needs to care for his father who suffers from Alzheimers. Their break-up is inevitable, but the decision to separate leads to some devastating results. Nader hires a day nurse, Razieh ( Sareh Bayet ), an abused and deeply devout woman, to care for his father while he is working, never telling her hot- tempered husband Hodjat ( Shahab Hosseini ) of her plan. This arrangement leads to further complications amid the many secrets and lies compounded by everyone involved. Their strong personal will to survive a legal system bereft of any justice becomes a central issue in this compelling courtroom drama.
These are flawed people faced with life and death decisions. The choices made by them have far-reaching cultural, political, and religious ramifications. Director Farhadi agilely sets up the plot and then purposely structures his film so that the viewer never really knows the exact circumstances that leads to the compounding of the issue at hand. His intricate screenplay has a Rashomon influence, as he edits the film to only show fragments of the case from differing points of view. This tends to complicate the viewer's own point of view as certain facts are left obscure and deliberately left to skew the outcome. ( There are some logistical factors that remain unexplained too.)
That said, A Separation is still a thought-provoking and hard-hitting film, impeccably acted by its cast, especially Maadi as the proud and stubborn patriarch. Special kudos to Hatami and Bayet as the women caught up in this male dominated culture, trying to make sense of their purpose while protecting the children they love. The child actors also bring a wonderful naturalness to their roles. Farhadi's literate script examines their plight and ponders the ethical and religious connotations that weigh on its characters as they deal with truths and half-truths that, in turn, destroy each of their lives. Sometimes, the truth doesn't always set you free. A Separation is a must-see for any seriously-minded moviegoer. GRADE: B+
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no wonder this iranian film would have won the Oscar for best foreign movie. this movie in my opinion is even better than the best movie of 2011 that won the Oscar. the screenplay, the dialog, the directing, the camera, the sound track....everything and all in all, are simply outstanding and near perfect! as to the movie itself, after watching it, i think that the husband and the father is absolutely innocent. he's also a great father to his daughter and a great son to his mentally as well as physically disabled father. the daughter is the typical good young lady that only a great fatherhood could be endowed. as the to the mother, well, i think that she's the sole cause and consequence of all the bad things. to me, she is also a selfish woman, cold wife and loveless mother. she would abandon everything in her life in Iran just for a visa that is difficult to get. well, that's just my impression and conclusion after watched this great film. as to all the actors and actresses, including the disabled father-grandfather, played a role in this film, i have to say they did impeccable and convincing performances. i can never imagine that a family dispute would cause such tremendous chain reaction to lot of people. i also have to say, i've seen many iranian movies as best i could have found, that the iranian common people are somehow better people than us. i will never buy anything that the government tried so hard to trash that country and its people.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi's A Separation is one of the
best films, if not the best, of 2011. I totally loved it, and it moves
to the top of my list of best films of the year. It's been nominated
for two Oscars (best foreign film and best original screenplay), having
already won a slew of other awards. A Separation is a small, carefully
observed, exquisitely rendered motion picture about well, it's about
a lot of things.
The title refers, most explicitly, to one of these: the depiction of an apparently irreconcilable disagreement between Nader, a thirty-ish bank officer, and his wife, Simin; their resulting separation; and the effect of all this on their family, including most particularly their daughter, Termeh, who's caught in the middle. The picture presents one of the most honest portrayals of a family's marital dissolution ever portrayed in a feature film. As a matrimonial lawyer, I know a little something about this.
His wife gone, Nader hires a caretaker, Razieh, to take of his dad, while he is at work and Termeh is at school. Whereas Nader and Simin are educated, secular and solidly middle class (or perhaps upper middle class), Razieh is none of those things; her husband is an unemployed cobbler, she is devoutly religious, and she comes from a different cultural milieu entirely. Everyone speaks Farsi, but really, they do not speak the same language. Within a few days, Nader comes home early to find his father tied to his bed and Razieh absent. When she returns, an argument ensues, during which Razieh's reticence about the reason for her absence and Nader's angry refusal to allow her the opportunity to explain, culminates in her being fired. Nader has to literally throw her out of his flat. A lawsuit ensues.
Communication and its limits are a major theme of the movie. Without honest, open communication, there can be no connection and no understanding, only misunderstanding. Misunderstanding breeds conflict, which impedes honesty and communication. Pretty soon there are multiple levels of separation: within the nuclear family, and by extension within the extended family of relatives, friends, and acquaintances (even Termeh's teacher gets drawn in); between the white collar and the blue-collar classes, between the secular and the devout and between people and their government (limited here to the judicial system for political reasons).
The film opens with Simin and Nader in domestic court, where each explains why his/her position is the most reasonable. Faryabi keeps the magistrate offscreen - the camera is where he would be - so the couple seem to be pleading directly to us. Later, there are several scenes at the courthouse, where we eavesdrop on the proceedings between Razieh and her husband on one hand versus Nader on the other. Accusations fly wantonly; Razieh's husband, a hothead, gets disturbingly yet credibly hotheaded; and the hearing officer, sweating, in shirtsleeves, tries to hold it together while seeking to winnow out the truth. But which truth, whose truth?
From the start and throughout this perceptive and moving picture, our sympathies for the characters constantly shift, because we are getting acquainted with basically good people, acting badly at times, but trying to do the best they can under trying circumstances. There are no heroes, no villains. None of the characters are perfect, all are wholly believable. The actors dissolve into their roles in the most naturalistic way, so we forget they are actors.
The themes of separation and impaired communication are augmented by the creative cinematography. Conversations occur through half-closed doors, characters are viewed through panes of glass, or in enclosed vehicles. We get extreme close ups of faces struggling with awful dilemmas: what do I say? Do I tell the truth? The whole truth? Then there is the haunting, heartbreaking final scene, back at the courthouse. - spoiler alert - Mom and Dad can't agree on custody. They both sorely love their daughter. The magistrate has asked Termeh if she has made a decision who she wants to live with. She has, but she doesn't want to say so in their presence. It's just too painful. Nader and Simin are asked to leave the room. They go out into the hall. They do not speak. Simin sits on one side of a glass partition, Nader is on the other. They wait. Eventually, the credits roll.
Through the lives of these characters, through a relatively simple narrative, with the aid of an honest screenplay and great acting, photography and direction, Faryabi demonstrates a compassionate understanding of human behavior and the forces with which ordinary people sometimes must struggle, navigating between empathy and self-righteousness, principle and compromise, self-protection and honesty, anger and compassion, love and duty. He has given us a moving, thought provoking, intelligent masterpiece.
For us in the US, there is another dimension of A Separation to savor. After months and years of political conversation about the dangers of a nuclear Iran, and the extremism of the Islamic regime running that country, we tend to forget that this is a country of people. And these people, it turns out are remarkably like us, notwithstanding their government. Startling so, to my sensibility. They drive cars, they have jobs, they dress like us (notwithstanding the mandatory headscarves for the ladies and the occasional birqa), the furnishings in their flats and public buildings look pretty 'Western.' At several moments, we get glimpses of 'the people' of Iran as a community. When the caretaker, Razieh, almost faints on a bus, the reaction of the community is remarkably supportive, trying to help in an any way they can. Even the magistrate in the legal action between the families shows signs of compassion, constrained though he is by Shariah law. I do not know what I was expecting, but somehow this glimpse into urban Iranian life and of the Persian people was a fascinating and reassuring bonus.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With the release of the superb 'A Separation', director Ashgar Farhadi
has done much to open peoples' eyes that Iran is a much more complex
society than has generally been perceived in the West. The film's title
might lead one to believe that this story is merely about the
separation of a husband and wife but it's much more than thatat times
I felt I was watching a Hitchcock-like thriller, with all the attendant
twists and turns associated with the suspense master himself.
In a sense, the separation between Nader and Simin, the secular middle class couple who are seen at the beginning of the film in a divorce court, is the catalyst for all the stunning developments to come. Because the judge rejects Simin's application for a divorce, she returns to her parents' home and leaves Nader, along with their eleven year old daughter Termeh (magnificently played by Sarina Farhadi, the director's real-life daughter) to care for Nader's Alzheimer's-stricken father.
Nader is the film's protagonist and should be seen as an admirable and complex character. Some may view him as foolhardy to continue taking care of his father, virtually on his own, but his decision is a testament to the strength and nobility of his character. Note the subtle scene where he orders Termeh to return a tip to a gas station attendant, after the attendant fails to perform a required service, thus teaching his daughter not only the value of hard work but also to be assertive (especially in a society where women are not always encouraged to be like that).
The film's antagonist, Razieh, is also a complex character. She shows up at Nader's house with her young daughter, having agreed to work as a domestic, taking care of Nader's father. Razieh is from a lower middle class background, dresses in a conservation Chador and ends up consulting a religious phone hot line, asking for advice whether it's against Muslim religious law to wash Nader's father. Even when the Iman tells her that she's permitted to do so, she understandably has a very hard time performing such unsavory work.
Nonetheless, Razieh uses remarkably poor judgment by tying up Nader's father and leaving the home to keep a doctor's appointment. Perhaps it's her unfamiliarity with elderly people stricken with Alzheimer's, that leads her to believe that such a senile man will be okay on his own, while she leaves the home. It's also quite understandable that Nader ends up quite upset to find Razieh gone and his father on the floor, hardly breathing. When Razieh returns, he berates her, discovers money missing and concludes that she was responsible for stealing it. What Nader wasn't aware of, was that Simin had earlier paid movers with the money. Now it's Razieh's turn to become upset as she's been falsely accused of theft and then makes things worse in Nader's eyes, by requesting her day's pay. We break into Act 2, when Nader pushes Razieh out the door, leading her to accuse him of causing the miscarriage of her baby.
The ensuing complications are too detailed to list here but let me say that director Farhadi has done a masterful job in chronicling the day to day operations of the Iranian justice system. Again, it's a nuanced portrait of a Judge who seems almost bored by being forced to sit through one conflicting domestic situation after another as well as revealing an attitude of inflexibility in applying the vagaries of the Iranian penal code. Nonetheless, it's not a complete kangaroo court, as investigations do seem to be ordered and there is a modicum of an attempt to ascertain the true facts.
While we do learn Nader is found to have lied to the court when he denies knowing that Razieh was pregnant, even Termeh realizes that sometimes 'white lies' are necessary and perjures herself before the Court, to ensure that her father doesn't go to prison and his life is not ruined.
Equally fascinating is Razieh's husband Hodjat's machinations in his quest for justice, which ends up more like a thirst for revenge. Hodjat represents the dark side of the Iranian populace. He's a hothead, who will take extra-judicial steps including threatening Termeh's tutor, who testified in Nader's defense. Hodjat is so menacing that the tutor even changes her testimony which jeopardizes Nader's case. Hodjat still is operating under the mistaken belief that his wife's claims are legitimate but when we learn that Razieh lost the baby because she was hit by a car (while outside looking for Nader's father who had wandered out of the house), Razieh's honor becomes much more questionable than that of her husband. After all, Razieh refuses to swear on the Koran, not because she's ashamed of accusing an innocent man, but because she fears that by testifying falsely, Allah may seek revenge on her and her daughter for her sins.
It's up to Simin to finally convince Nader to compensate Razieh's family. While Nader earlier casts Simin as someone who too easily runs away from difficult conflicts, he realizes the only way out is to compromise and pay compensation to Razieh's family. Of all the characters in the film, Simin is perhaps the most thinly drawn. Why does she want to leave Iran? Is it because she's tired of taking care of Nader's father? We don't find out that much about her but when she and Nader argue, the scenes are electric.
Justice is finally served when Razieh refuses to swear on the Koran. As the legitimacy over Razieh's initial accusation and Nader's debt to her family is resolved, the subplot concerning the pending custody of Termeh is not. We're left to guess which parent Termeh chooses to live with at film's end.
'A Separation' is a superb film which, if it only could be, should not only be nominated for Best Foreign language film but for the Academy's 'Best Picture' as well.
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