Verdict: 4.5 / 5
What if I told you an Iranian film, A Seperation, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, was one of the best films I’ve seen this year? What if I told you it won Best Foreign-Language Film at the Academy Awards in 2012, but deserved a run for Best Picture against The Artist, Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris? What if I told you it met with universal acclaim from film critics and currently holds a 99% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes? Would all that convince you to watch a subtitled film about a family set in a world very different? It should.
Simin: He [Nader’s Father] doesn’t even know who you are.
Nader: He does not know me but i know that he is my father.
Iranian films certainly don’t headline any theaters outside of the country’s four walls, but A Seperation, a film that deals with universal topics and themes like divorce, forgiveness, faith and struggle, manages to tear down all barriers and finds universal appeal. There are no visceral thrills or syrupy soundtracks found here. Instead, all we are offered is a powerful minimalistic film experience, with a story that will literally provoke you to anger, tears and remorse. Very few films capture raw emotional impact as convincingly as A Seperation. The real genius of Farhadi’s work lies in its subtle ability to engage in huge issues within quiet, intimate moments, much like a good novel does.
Termeh: Didn’t you say it’s not serious?
Nader: It got serious.
The story begins in a courtroom, where middle-class bank clerk Nader (Peyman Maadi) refuses to divorce or move overseas with his wife Simin (Leila Hatami) because he can’t leave behind his father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. When Simin decides to move to her mother’s for a while, their 11-year-old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) decides to stay, but secretly longs for her parents to unite. Nader soon hires a pregnant impoverished caretaker (Sareh Bayat) to look after his father during the day. Things seem to be going okay for a while, but then tragedy suddenly strikes. Nader is accused of pushing the caretaker in anger, which results in her miscarriage. But what exactly is the truth? The caretaker’s hot-headed husband demands justice and calls on the courts to settle the matter. What unfolds is an emotional roller-coaster filled with twists and turns.
Nader: What is wrong is wrong, no matter who said it or where it’s written.
The drama is gripping and the acting superb (flawless even). A Seperation proves that great cinema truly does cross barriers of culture and tribe. A must-see! And if you don’t believe me, the awards prove it!
Why didn’t I find this gem earlier? Thank you Ster-kinekor.
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