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A Separation (2011)

Jodaeiye Nader az Simin

A Separation - Movie Review

Starring:

Ali-Asghar Shahbazi

Babak Karimi

Kimia Hosseini

Leila Hatami

Merila Zare'i

Peyman Moadi

Sahabanu Zolghadr

Sareh Bayat

Sarina Farhadi

Shahab Hosseini

Shirin Yazdanbakhsh

Directed by:

Asghar Farhadi

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 120 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

Country: Iran

Oh oh, A Separation, that sounds like another The Son’s Room, a movie about the grieving process that nearly led to my mother prematurely grieving me. But never fear, Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian drama is not at all depressing and harrowing but rather an extremely interesting and intelligent watch.

Nader (Moadi) and Simin (Hatami) are an Iranian couple who argue about whether to stay in Iran. Simin wants to leave the country to provide a better life for their daughter, Termah (Farhadi), but Nader feels a duty to stay and look after his father who has Alzheimers (Shahbazi). Determined to do what is best for their respective charges the couple agree to a trial divorce but their lives take a series of increasingly dramatic turns as the story transforms from a family study into courtroom drama.

This is a superbly written, intelligent, economically-directed take on an ordinary family facing extraordinary situations. It’s full of plot twists and fascinating new moral dilemmas along the way and the characters are so well fashioned that you feel sympathy towards all of them meaning each plot strand holds your interest throughout. The cast also have to be given their due as everyone from Moadi and Hatami downwards play their parts superbly, especially Shahbazi who gives a disturbingly realistic portrayal of a man with a debilitating disease.

Importantly, A Separation gives the West an insight into a culture that many may have abandoned as one uniform lump. It is a country that has people living their complex lives –  just in the shadow of a nasty leader. I saw this as part of an Iranian film festival and there are definitely some wonderful films from the country that we’re missing out on.

It's Got: Great characterisation, plot twists and intelligence

It Needs: No real insight into Iranian life - this is about a family not politics

Alternatives:

About Elly, Persepolis, The Son's Room

Summary

The best (only) Iranian film I have ever seen is a well-crafted and intelligent family/courtroom drama with a shoe in for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.

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