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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
With Chaharshanbe-Soori (Fireworks Wednesday) and now Darbareye Elly (About Elly), Asghar Farhadi has shot right to the top and joined an elite club of Iranian film makers, such as Kiarostami, Majidi and Mehrjui, whose films are appreciated worldwide. Farhadi's films are truly world class and full of nuances and deft touches not usually found in Iranian movies.
About Elly starts deceptively simple. A group of married couples, some with children, have come to a seaside town for a short break. The only single people in the group are Ahmad (Shahab Hosseini) who has recently separated from his German wife and Elly (Taraneh Alidoosti) who is a nursery teacher to Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani)'s child. Sepideh has organized the whole trip, as well as playing matchmaker to Ahmad and Elly.
The film really takes off when, in an apparent attempt to rescue one of the children from drowning, Elly disappears. Was she drowned? Did she just leave because she was embarrassed by the group's snide remarks about her and Ahmad? There are echoes of Antonioni's L'Aventura here but there is a big difference between the two films. Wheras in L'Aventura the missing girl quickly became forgotten by the group, here Elly becomes center of attention. The group realize how little they knew her; they don't even know her full name (Elly is a shortened version of several names). The questions keep surfacing: who was Elly and why did she agree to accompany a group of relative strangers for a few days in another town? (something highly uncommon for a single girl in Iran). About Elly is a worthy follow up to Farhadi's Chaharshanbe-Soori (Fireworks Wednesday). Again, as in that movie, Farhadi examines the consequences of lies and deceptions. He shows that even mundane lies of convenience, if piled on top of one another, can lead to unforeseen events. In addition to his insightful scripts, Farhadi clearly has an ability to draw top notch, and often career best, performances from his cast. All the actors here are superb but special mention must go to Golshifteh Farahani, Shahab Hosseini and Saber Abar. Like Chaharshanbe-Soori, About Elly demands and repays several viewings.
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