For Reel

A Separation (2011)
January 7, 2012, 5:04 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Asghar Farhadi

Asghar Farhadi, with films like About Elly and Fireworks Wednesday, has emerged as one of the preeminent Iranian filmmakers, focusing exclusively on domestic issues within the Iranian middle class. A Separation – his biggest international success thus far – is a masterpiece. After a conflict arises a quarter of the way into the picture, the characters are asked to defend their positions and, in doing so, reveal the dissension that occurs between people who are asked to defend their own moral codes and senses of responsibility. Early on, one has the desire to pick a side, but that is entirely beside the point. Farhadi’s success is in how vividly he draws his characters – each one of them is flawed and, at one point or another, makes a decision that worsens the situation. More interestingly, Farhadi details the way that each character relays their story to an impartial third party – whether that be to their own daughter or to a judge – and how they articulate their position in order to justify their actions. They aren’t necessarily bad people, but people doing what they believe is best. Truth is abstract, as we learned from Rashomon, and when a daughter asks her father why he lied, one recalls the famous opening line from that film – “I can’t understand it.”


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