As I took part in PÖFF (which I posted a lot about and will continue to do so) I started to think about the content of this blog. Difficult statements were made
in my mind and a final decision was that I will start to focus on foreign movies (that meaning movies that are not American). For me, this is probably a bit funny, cause I am Estonian and American movies are foreign for me as well but since I am basically writing this blog from the point of view of US cinema I made this distinction. So long story short, I am probably gonna post a lot of foreign movie reviews and trailers in addition to the long list of classics that are still waiting patiently for me to devour through them.
Back to business, A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin) was the last movie I saw at PÖFF (in Tallinn, together with people from workshop – awesome movie experts) and it was a bittersweet experience which left a good impression to the entire festival. There has been a lot of hype around this Iranian movie which tackles one of the most universal issues – separation of a marriage and I thought it would be a nice beginning for this new category.
Written, directed and produced by Asghar Farhadi A Separation is the best Iranian movie so far, winning the Golden Bear for best film and two Silver Bears for the actors/actresses at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, among the long list of other awards. Before getting deeper into the story-line I just want to mention the success through numbers. With a budget of half a million, A Separation has earned it all back and much-much more – just over $3 million in Iran itself and almost $15 million abroad!
The plot is simple, Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Harami) having separated, are now living with those consequences. In the very beginning it is shown that Simin wants a divorce, although she still has respect and love for her husband, because Nader is not willing to change his mind about moving abroad. The story follows them after Simin moves to her mother’s, where the emphasis of the plot is on Nader and his hired help – Razieh (Sareh Bayat). While separation is the problem on the surface, it is clear that the movie can not function without religion. The question of morals and what is acceptable or not, is especially strong within the character of Razieh. She is hired to help out with Nader’s father who is suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, while bringing along her young daughter: various stories emerge from that point on. In the end, it is almost a story of two marriages where one ends with not apparent reason and the other continues through the difficulties thrust upon them.
Nader and Simin end up staying apart, due to reasons that seem more complicated than just fighting or cheating (which is actually refreshing to see on the screen), and their daughter has to make a choice which parent she want’s to live with. This is the final chapter, the final scene of the movie that leaves a strong mark – the end credits roll between Nader and Simin sitting in a hallway, symbolizing their brake-up and their daughter is making a choice in front of the judge. Her decision is not shown, we are left to guess even though the actions of the father in the middle of the movie, where the conflict between Razieh arises, would lead us to presume the choice of the mother. Written and delivered with such strength, the child’s option, despite the conflict between the daughter and the father, is still hovering in the air days after seeing the movie.
Concluding with a compliment towards Farhadi: A Separation has a strong script, solid verbal contradiction and a powerful narrative with twists and turns. Together with Farhadi’s directing and the believable acting (from everyone, even the little kid) it is a must-see film with a sad, enjoyable and realistic story of how everybody makes mistakes.