A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
My personal knowledge of Iranian Cinema started with The Taste of Cherry by Abbas Kiarostami and ended there. This masterpiece was my only encounter with the films of this part of the world except the short film The House is Black. In the later years, I wanted to discover more films from different countries and cultures. My quest of the 1000 Greatest Films of TSPDT was my basis to get to those films. With the last update of the list Kiarostami got 3 or more titles included on the list plus the ones he already had there. There was also an addition that was also on my list of recent films to discover; Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation. Praised everywhere it entered in competition and even nominated for Best Screenplay at the Oscars, it won the Best Foreign Film category.
Simin (Leila Hatami) the wife of Nader (Peyman Maadi) asks for divorce because her husband doesn’t want to quit Iran and have a better future for their 11 years old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi). His reason is that he can’t leave his father who suffers from Alzheimer disease and can’t live without constant help. Nader hires Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to take care of his father during the time he works at the bank. Until one day that Razieh left the old man tied to his bed it degenarate in a trial.
This complex story that mixes many levels of family, generations, riches and poors, and religious beliefs might be one of the greatest films of our time. Written and directed as wisely and direct as a Yasujiro Ozu picture, read here Tokyo Story for example, A Separation gets the reality of Iran closer to North Americans like myself. Within the first minutes of the film I was into this plot driven film. The mise en scène is very simple and apart from many long shots and keen camera placing, the mind forgets that it watches a movie but is living the story of those people. The moral dilemmas and many elements that the plot highlights with and without insistence it depends on the case are human. It is the humanity of Farhadi’s films that transcends and gets a grip on its viewer.
Finally, it is the kind of film I watch and thereafter kick myself so hard for having waited that long to get to it. I would highly recommend this superb drama that demonstrates that outside our Occidental closed minds there is great cinema. We just have to let ourselves dive into it. Salam!