A SEPARATION (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin, Iran)

 Greetings again from the darkness. This one finally made it to Dallas and it’s now clear why it is not only the Oscar favorite for Best Foreign Language Film, but also received a Best Original Screenplay nomination. It’s truly that good … and powerful … and thought provoking. I caught myself changing my mind more than once on some of the issues these characters faced.

The film opens with Nader and Simin (Peyman Moadi and Leila Hatami) in front of a judge to determine if they will be granted a divorce. Simin wants to take their daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi, the director’s daughter) to study abroad. Nader doesn’t disagree with the plan, only the timing. He refuses to leave his Dad, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, alone in Iran. In a poignant moment, Nader points out that while his dad may not know him, he still certainly knows his dad. This is the first of a recurring theme throughout … there are numerous ways to look at every issue.

When Simin moves in with her mother, Nader hires Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to be his dad’s caregiver. After a few days, Nader and Razieh have a heated argument and he pushes her out of the apartment. Next thing he knows, she is in the hospital after a miscarriage. She and her husband (Shahab Hosseini) file a claim saying Nader pushed her down the stairs causing the miscarriage. The core of the story is the actions of the key characters during the inquisition process by the judge/inspector. Nothing seems clear cut, and each character’s recall and statements vary from moment to moment.

 A key point is that these are all basically good and moral people. Muslim believers in various stages. None would purposefully sin, yet each is trying to protect something or someone. The script is fascinating in its detail and subtlety. It moves like real life rather than a movie trying to get crammed into a 2 hour window. Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, the film deserves all accolades and acclaim. Let’s hope it finds an audience in the U.S. We could certainly use more stories and films like this. My reasoning for keeping my comments short here is that I believe this movie is most effective when one can watch this movie with few pre-conceived notions. Let your mind follow its own path.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: if you want to see one of the best films of 2011 OR you would like an example of superb  and complex screenwriting

SKIP THIS MOVIE: if you prefer movies that don’t require you to engage the decision-making part of your brain (this one keeps you working!)

watch the trailer:

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