In A Separation, a film born out of Iran, we see no oppressive mullahs, the visage of President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad is nowhere to be found, you'll find no religious or political propaganda or grandstanding of any kind. Everything about the film seems to casually flout the current political narrative simply by not being political at all. A Separation is a family drama about a normal family who finds themselves in extraordinary circumstances. What makes the film so remarkable is that it is so very universal. Audiences may balk at the idea of watching something so seemingly exotic as an Iranian film, but they would be missing out on something wholly identifiable and breathtakingly honest. These people could be from anywhere in any country, and that is one of the film's strongest assets.
|Leila Hatami as Simin and Peyman Moadi as Nader in A SEPARATION.|
Photo by Habib Madjidi ©, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Hodjat is taken aback by the task she is saddled with, not expecting the amount of work that would be involved and the true condition of Nader's father. A deeply religious woman, she is embarrassed by his inability to use the bathroom on his own and frets whether or not being placed in a situation where she may see his genitals is a sin. Then one day, Nader returns to find his father tied to the bed, and Hodjat nowhere to be found. When she returns, he confronts her about leaving him alone, accuses her of theft, and forcibly ejects her from his home, and in the ensuing altercation in which she falls out of his door she accuses him of causing her miscarriage and therefore the murder of her unborn son. Nader soon finds himself entangled in a legal battle with seemingly no end in sight, as she accuses him of murder and he accuses her of theft and elder abuse. As the mire threatens to engulf them all, justice seems to drift farther and farther out of reach.
|Peyman Moadi as Nader and Sarina Farhadi as Termeh in A SEPARATION. |
Photo by Habib Madjidi ©, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
There are no heroes or villain's in Farhadi's disarmingly naturalistic world; just people trying to do the best they can for the people they love whose motives occasionally run afoul of each other. It's like watching a train wreck, frustratingly inevitable and yet unblinkingly gripping. "Lies may lead to truth" reads the incisively cryptic tagline, presciently summing up the film's lasting impact. In a world where white lies spin out of control and threaten to destroy lives, Farhadi discovers simple yet deeply human truths - that the divides that so often separate us can seem so impossibly wide are never quite as far as we imagine.
GRADE - ★★★★ (out of four)
A SEPARATION | Directed by Asghar Farhadi | Stars Leila Hatami, Peyman Moadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Babak Karimi, Ali-Asghar Shahbazi | Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material | In Farsi w/English subtitles | Now playing in select cities.