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A Separation

July 14, 2013

A Separation (2011)
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Actors: Peyman Moaadi, Leila Hatami, Sarina Farhadi

A Separation

Synopsis: Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) are in the early stages of a separation – the sticking point being the custody of their daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi). When an incident happens with Nader’s maid, who was meant to be looking after his senile father, a chain of events take place which cast all the members of the story in a new light.

Review: A Separation has all the qualities of a masterly stage play: a classic framing device (a middle-class couple, with seemingly evenly balanced arguments, in the throes of separating), an early incident that drives the remainder of the plot, subtle nuances to the film’s many diverse characters, and the sense that everything’s been structured precisely. This narrative dexterity ranges from the layered addition of revelations which add richness to the scenario, to the way that writer-director Asghar Farhadi cleverly withholds one or two vital snippets of information from the audience.

Of course, cinema isn’t played out on stage but ostensibly in the ‘real world’, and A Separation has an added frisson in throwing up something of a mirror to social politics in contemporary Iran. Cleverly though, A Separation doesn’t overtly proselytise about its own socio-political import. In fact, it’s largely concerned with matters of the family that to some degree are universal, although the subtly corrosive impact of the patriarchal and religious cornerstones of Iran are felt by the end. So much so in fact, that the daughter at the middle of the custody battle, and whose initial instinct is to believe in her family unit and staying in Iran, would seem to be on the cusp of subscribing to her mother’s view that a future outside of Iran is the only way forward by the end. (July 2013)

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