DIRECTED BY ASGHAR FARHADI.
The latest success story from the fascinating Iranian New Wave cinema, A Separation follows the legal struggle between middle class Nader (Peyman Moadi), juggling a career and the responsibility for his daughter while caring for his alzheimer’s stricken father, and housekeeper Razieh (Sareh Bayat), equally burdened by her pregnancy and the need to earn money following her husband’s redundancy.
When their two lives clash following a disagreement that ends in tragedy, such an endlessly frustrating situation is born that the film is at times exhausting to watch, yet always completely compelling.
A Separation is a glimpse into a world not often seen by foreign audiences, the day to day minutiae of life in relatively affluent Iranian society, where class and religious beliefs come into conflict in unexpected ways. There’s something so absurd and darkly humorous about so many of the realities these people must endure, particularly in regards to religion, yet never does the film feel phony or forced.
Writer/director Asghar Farhadi imbues the film with a delicate exploration of what constitutes sin in Iranian society. As each character gets drawn deeper and deeper into the dilemma and the blame game spirals out of control, so too does the narrative style constantly circle back on itself, while often seeming to over- complicate rather than heading towards a resolution. A Separation is maddening by design, representative of what seems to be an incredibly intricate and baffling bureaucratic system, and compounded by archaic religious doctrine and difficult social politics.
At times heartbreaking in its exploration of morality and faith, it’s by no means an easy film. However for anyone willing to step outside their comfort zone, it’s a rewarding experience, with much to take in and no doubt discuss afterwards.