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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Separation (2011)


Ashgar Farhadi's unforgettably harrowing portrait of of modern-day Iran is patient, to-the-point filmmaking at its finest, one of the most magnificent films of the year. This film isn't a spectacle to watch; simplistic in every aspect, but loaded with seething emotion, social and religious unrest, and political criticism.

Starting with a middle class husband, Naader, and wife, Simin, attempting to get divorced, but they are turned down due to lack of "reason." Simin wants to leave the country with her daughter to escape the conditions Tehran, Iran while Naader refuses to leave his father who is suffering from Alzheimer's. Their daughter, Termeh, is the sole thing that keeps them from complete separation. To take care of his father and the house while him and Termeh are gone during the day, Naader hires low-class housekeeper Razieh who is accompanied by her young daughter, Somayeh. Razieh is pregnant and deeply religious (Islamic). Her health and religion becomes an immediate conflict with her new job and her husband, Houjat, is unable to help her due to religions customs. A very quick and uncontrollable sequence of events leads to a headed conflict between Naader and Razieh and leaves ends with her having a miscarriage.

The first impression isn't even half of the truth. Razieh and Houjat accuse Naader of murder, their baby just happened to be 4.5 months old which is considered a full human being. Naader throws together a desperate, and ill-conceived counter-accusation against Razieh to shadow the fact that he knows that he is more than partially responsible for the loss of a human life. He is played by Peyman Moadi, his performance as a husband and father whose futile attempts to avoid taking responsibility end up destroying his family is heart-wrenching. Houjat's ager drives him to uncontrollable insanity and Simin has to come to terms with her own weakness as she comes to understand the dark nature within the situation. Simin is played by Leila Hatami, her performance is extremely subtle, and doesn't really come to light until the end as she finally tries one last time to save her family.

Morals against morals, beliefs against beliefs with the truth being destroyed by both of the families' desperation. There is not one bad person in this film, normal, good-natured people are turned against each other as they do everything imaginable to protect the ones they love. By the end of the film everyone is a victim, but at the same time...the cause of it all. The real tragedy of this film is to see the brutal corruption of Termeh and Somayeh, their purity and naivety is raped, thus hinting of an upcoming cycle of events. Farhadi portrays a country divided by conflicted beliefs and hopeless situations. Simply, and honestly, one of the best films of the year and one of the most gripping films to come out of Iran.


  1. Superb review for a flawlessly acted film.

  2. I was very pleasantly surprised by this film. Sometimes the media champions a film based on its message alone and this could've been a pretty heavy message. I'm glad A Separation stands up as a film in any language, not just because its a film from Iran.

  3. I agree with you on the naivety and purity of both daughter's broken. I remember how Somayeh looked at Termeh with hostile look in one of the scenes, just a moment but makes me feel pity of them as victim.
    Great analysis and review.

  4. I haven't seen too many Iranian films, but if they are anywhere near as compelling as this, then they are seriously doing something right. Great review.