Monday, May 11, 2015


Asia on Screen
2015 Film Festival
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex

I still have qualms that Iran is part of Asia but that's just me. Geographically, it is part of what is known as the South Western Asia region. Yet, I am grateful it is because it gave me an opportunity to catch this suspenseful family drama from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi. 

As the title suggests, the film commences with the shot of a couple trying to convince a judge to grant them a divorce. The wife, Simin pleads for a dissolution of the marriage as their visa to Canada will expire in 40 days. But her husband, Nader refuses to leave behind his Alzheimer stricken father. The request is denied so Simin moves out to stay at her parents' house while their only daughter, Termeh decides to stay with her father. Trouble ensues when Razieh, the ultra religious caretaker that Nader hires to assist his sick father is accused of stealing money as well as abandoning the old man under her watch. 

Things pretty quickly unfold once this side plot is thrown into the already chaotic arrangement in the household. Accusations fly, lies abound and all of the characters' lives are in a turmoil. Shifting between scenes in a small court room where a judge is trying to determine the truth behind the accusations to scenes set in the abode of Nader and Termeh where the 'crime' happened. Simin also intervenes as she was the one who recommended the caretaker in the first place. 

Mostly dialogue driven (it was interesting to hear the Farsi language - it kind of has a melodious tone to it) and delivered by a believable ensemble cast. It can be daunting too as you try to wrap your head around the amount of accusations, lies and revelations that suddenly pop out. But the narrative is complex with layers upon layers of information that are 'released' appropriately. 

You feel like you are on a roller coaster ride from all the tumultuous problems that besets the hapless family. Just when you have settled down a bit, you are hit with a vague ending which will have you pondering on the infinite consequences of that ambiguous yet final decision. In short, it is a 'thinking' film and I don't mind it one single bit. It was riveting, to say the least.

"A Separation" is very well directed buoyed by good acting from the entire cast against a very engaging narrative. It shows us a glimpse into the everyday life of a middle class Iranian family dealing with the beyond normal pitfalls of life. Such as caring for an aged parent, raising a child in a repressive society, earning a decent living and trying to find good help. 

Highly recommended!

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