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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 clearly thought-out – from the layers of revelations that add richness to the narrative, to the way that writer-director Asghar Farhadi cleverly keeps one or two key snippets of information from the audience.

But of course, cinema isn’t played out on stage, but ostensibly in the ‘real world’, and A Separation has an added frisson as it offers something of a mirror to contemporary Iran. What I like about A Separation is that although it doesn’t overtly proselytise about the political/social situation there – in fact it’s largely concerned with matters of the family that to some degree are universal – 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, father 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 close. (July 2013)

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