A Separation—movie review

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
December 29, 2011 10:31 PM
8 Comments
  • |

Habib Madjidi ©, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
What can you say about a film that is so vividly real, and so intense, that it holds you spellbound for two hours, without letup? A Separation, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, would be superior filmmaking under any circumstances. That it also enables Western audiences to relate to its Iranian characters as people—not as political enemies or faceless statistics—is an equally great achievement.

There are no heroes or villains in this story: there are only everyday figures who try their best and struggle to survive. The story begins as a modern-thinking woman asks for a divorce and is told, by an unseen magistrate, that she can’t take her daughter out of the country if her husband doesn’t consent. Here is our first taste of a patriarchal society where men, and men alone, make the decisions. The woman, who has red hair and looks almost Western, isn’t without fault: she wants her spouse to abandon his aged father, who has Alzheimer’s and can’t care for himself.

This is just the first chapter of an unfolding story that involves circumstance, coincidence, and choice. The couple’s daughter is caught in the midst of an ever-spiraling controversy after her father hires a caregiver for his father and things go wrong. Matters of conscience and ethics come into play, and the stakes get higher at every turn.

I am reluctant to divulge any more of the story. Suffice it to say that even though some aspects of the narrative are particular to Iran, there is little that couldn’t take place anywhere in the world. That’s why A Separation is so relatable, and so significant.

The acting is naturalistic, and the camerawork invisible, adding to a feeling that we are simply watching life unfold. And, like real life (as opposed to the contrivances of “reality television”) what happens is impossible to predict. A Separation is devastating drama, superbly presented—and not to be missed.

You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

8 Comments

  • Patrick M. Gouin | March 15, 2012 5:34 PMReply

    Unbelievable! This film won the Oscar for best (foreign) film in a language other than English. Frankly, In Darkness and Mr Lazhar are far more deserving with better stories and far better acting. The Academy members were probably fascinated by this glimpse of daily life in today’s Iran. In fact, it does fascinate but disturbs also. Seeing all these submissive women wearing the chador, even in their own home, is very disturbing. These women asking for spiritual guidance from Islamic law is revolting to anyone who cannot imagine a society where equality of the sexes is absent. The men on the other hand live a fully contemporary life without any shame. The story is weak but the elephant in the room has to be this heavy repression which is felt in the daily lives of these women. That is the true drama here. I was eager for it to end.

  • melika | January 16, 2012 5:06 AMReply

    a really great movie!

  • Baddu | January 15, 2012 10:17 PMReply

    There are deeper layers in this movie. One aspect is given here. In spite of the apolitical pretensions of the movie, Iranian viewers sense in-there some metaphors of a political nature
    .
    In the opening scene, Nader says he does not want to leave Iran for many reasons and when challenged by Simin to name one, he mentions his father's need for care and sympathy in the state he is in. To Simin this seems like an excuse. Nader, a man whose honesty and integrity is confirmed, should be seeking a better future for his family in the West, rather than stay behind, helping a father whose situation is fast becoming irreversible through Alzheimer's. Then, as the argument builds up, we finally hear laud and clear the Two World Views' :
    Simin (Cosmopolitan)- Does your father even know you are his son?
    Nader (patriotic)- But I know he is my father!
    The sick father, who no longer knows him but needs his love, his care and his protection so dearly and cannot be left behind in such a state, is of-course IRAN!
    This interpretation is confirmed when Nader accuses Simin, in a later scene, that she has always been weak and tried to escape when conditions get tough, whereas one has to stand up and face the challenges ahead............. Sanctions or Worse!

  • PCM | January 14, 2012 11:36 AMReply

    An exquisite film that leaves you with a buzz at the end: Not happy, not sad, but a weird feeling of intellectual numbness. I saw it in the original Persian with no subtitles. But since the superb acting works with the powerful dialogue (Farhadi directed plays before movies), the viewer should find the subtitle language they feel most comfortable with and allot an uninterrupted two hours.

  • frenchcookie14@hotmail.com | January 8, 2012 10:27 AMReply

    I will see this movie hopefully but still digesting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which was awesome

  • Mike couffer | December 30, 2011 11:56 PMReply

    mmmmm

  • mohamad | December 30, 2011 7:08 AMReply

    I suggest watching this great movie 

  • Mehrdad Gharibian | December 30, 2011 3:27 AMReply

    I LUV this movie...

Email Updates

Latest Tweets

Follow us

Most "Liked"

  • Movie Heaven, Courtesy Of TCM
  • From the Beginning - An Orphan Black ...
  • Fading Gigolo
  • Transcendence
  • A Shaky Matter
  • A Sharper Focus On Hollywood And WW ...


leonardmaltin