MOVIE REVIEWS |
EDITORIALS | EVENTS |
EXAMINER.COM FILM ARTICLES
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
A Separation (Jodaeiye
Nader az Simin)
Facts, Fictions, Truths, And The Gulf That Is Reality
Leila Hatami as Simin and Peyman Moadi as Nader in Asghar Farhadi's
Oscar-nominated drama "A Separation".
Sony Pictures Classics
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Wednesday, February 1,
Asghar Farhadi's dual-Oscar nominated drama from Iran, "A Separation", is one
superbly written film about degrees of distance and perception -- not just
between Simin (Leila Hatami) and Nader (Peyman Moadi), an estranged married
couple who split when Simin wants to leave Iran without her father-in-law (Nader
refuses to leave his Alzheimer's-stricken father behind) -- but between
perception and reality, men and women, children and adults. Simin is
compelled to stay in Iran, moving to her parents' home when their daughter
Termeh decides to stay with her father.
Nader hires Razieh (Sareh Bayat), a maid, to look after his father during the
day. An incident happens and we see its end result. An accusation is
made. An altercation occurs. The truth and reality of these three
events is obscured in their own way by time, missing elements, objects and
words. At all times "A Separation" is about communication and how its
absence causes immeasurable and possibly irreparable harm. Many times the
filmmaker himself curtails our view of the matters before us, adding to the
tension and curiosity of the events and participants in them. One of the
best films of 2011 or any year, "A Separation" is rich, well-conceived and
always invested in capturing human drama and its inherent contradiction.
As wonderfully expressed on the big screen Mr. Farhadi brings his brilliant,
incisive writing to each of the film's situations and characters, in particular
young Termeh, played beautifully by the director's real-life daughter Sarina
Farhadi, whose big screen character is relentlessly analytical in the honest,
refreshing way that children are. Ms. Farhadi, closest to being the film
audience's eyes and ears, brings immense gravitas and context to the adult
situations Termeh witnesses, ones often filled with lies, exaggerations and
bendings of the truth. Throughout, Termeh has been processing what she is
experiencing in a subtle way as if a juror, assessing facts, words and
interactions, and making a decision about her future based upon all the
variables she's faced with. When the end arrives we suspect -- even if
we're not entirely sure -- where she will end up.
Besides Ms. Farhadi the cast is extremely good, most notably Ms. Bayat as Razieh,
the maid at the center of some of the film's most crucial events. Both Ms.
Farhadi and Ms. Bayat won last year's Silver Bear Award for best actress at the
Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival) as part of the actress acting
ensemble also including Ms. Hatami, palpable here, and best actor (Mr. Moadi,
penetrating and powerful as Nader.) "A Separation" also won the Festival]s
Golden Bear award for best film. Last week the film was nominated for best
original screenplay and best foreign language film Academy Awards, the latter of
which it should win, although it deserves to win both.
Part-morality play and part-family loyalty exercise, "A Separation" demonstrates
that marriage and good parenting are two completely different and distinct
entities that have little at all to do with one another. Were Simin and
Nader good spouses? We only know that they are apart. Are they good
parents? Both highly principled individuals, they instill positive values
in Termeh that any other caring parent would to their own children. Simin
and Nader despite their flaws, appear to be good people. Sometimes though,
two good people are not good together, and for whatever reason (if any beyond
Simin's wanting to leave Iran with Nader and Termeh), Simin and Nader can no
longer remain together.
"A Separation" ("Jodaeiye Nader az Simin" is its native title) captures
excellent moments of compassion, anger, equanimity, respect, outrage and
tension, as well as dilemmas that rip at the core of the film's moral drama.
Mr. Farhadi's written words, as shown in subtitles, have an authoritative
heartbeat and rhythm. More than even the fine acting on display the
written word is what brings this clinical film to life in such profound and
intimate ways. As a conversation piece and a drama "A Separation" is
wondrously alive with invigoration and the passion of thought. You feel
these character's thoughts as they utter the words that summarize them.
You instinctively believe you know whether they are being honest or not.
To his credit, the Iranian-born Mr. Farhadi also diversifies his depiction of
Iranian women, something many directors not native to the country often avoid
doing. Each woman in "A Separation" is resolute, confident, vulnerable,
decisive, protective and real. The film's look is also real, wearing tones
of muted color and earthy texture.
The director has the complete landscape of his characters at his disposal,
making each and every one of them rounded, voluble and flawed. One could
argue that each is a problem-escalator rather than a problem-solver, and when
traditions in the tight-knit families seen in the film become a source of
conflict, who is right and who is wrong? "A Separation" shows how one
action, non-action or falsehood can have a devastating effect on families, their
reputations and honor. The film shows the layers and dangers of how one
lie begets another, and how one character's ingenuity and improvisation is
acquired by what is seen, learned and observed. None of the native customs
are caricatured or expediently used in this human drama, which invites empathy
and, in the capable hands of Mr. Farhadi in his fifth feature, reveal a
discerning, conscientious evenhandedness.
Mr. Farhadi makes full use of the investigative process of puzzle-solving,
presenting situations without commentary or judgment and asking the audience as
outsiders to make decisions about what they see and determine who, if anyone, is
culpable in the transpiring events. As with all films but especially
"A Separation", the audience, not the director-screenwriter, has the greatest
power in shaping an interpreting the film's events. To an extent Iranian
customs come into play, further complicating actions and their consequences,
making the story more authentic and fraught with social and moral entanglement.
Even for audiences not familiar with traditions in Iran or contemporary Iranian
mores, the drama the crisis of some customs create in the film's shrewd, mature
storytelling is riveting.
On a cinematic level "A Separation" eloquently and consistently attains an
undeniable and elementary truth if not always a purely literal one: that the
distance between what we see and what we believe is often filled with much
murkiness -- and that what is shown is often more complex than any exacting
words chosen or spoken to represent it.
With: Shahab Hosseini, Babak Karimi, Ali-Asghar Shahbazi, Kimia Hosseini, Merila
"A Separation" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association Of America
for mature thematic material
The film is in the Persian language with English subtitles.
The film's running time is two hours and three minutes.
COPYRIGHT 2012. POPCORNREEL.COM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED..
EDITORIALS| EVENTS ||
EXAMINER.COM FILM ARTICLES