Movie Reviews

A Separation: Foreign yet strangely familiar

By inSing EditorMovies - 12 March 2012 12:12 PM | Updated 12:24 PM

A Separation: Foreign yet strangely familiar

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The Buzz: Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars, this Iranian film has picked up almost every accolade there is out there.

The Stars: Peyman Moadi, Leila Hatami and Sareh Bayat

The Story: Nader and Simin, a married couple in Iran, are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child, Termeh, by moving to another country or to stay in their country and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease. Their separation leads to a chain of events that plunge their family, and another’s, into disarray. thinks: A family drama that becomes a domestic mystery, this award-winning Iranian film is thoroughly engaging and shows well-made films can have a universal message.

The separation of the title pulls Nader and Simin apart, but sets off a chain of unfortunate events. Nader hires a pregnant woman, Razieh (Bayat), to look after his senile father, but a rash act takes the movie into an unexpected direction.

The title refers not just to the split between Nader and Simin, but to the divisions within Iran itself. Razier is a strict Muslim, who calls religious teachers for advice before making decisions. Her husband, Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), becomes entangled in the whole affair. Nader and Simin are less religious and obviously more well-off, but still struggling.

Director Asghar Farhadi has created a compelling, complex story that is much more than immediately apparent. He explores not just the divisions within the family, but in Iranian society. However, he keeps this in the background, never letting it take over the film.

Avoiding the exotic Iran offered in other famous Iranian works such as Children of Heaven, Farhadi presents a modern Iran that is fraught with prejudices and where religion permeates every layer of society. 

There are no right or wrong individuals in the story, and Farhadi presents every point of view of the ensemble cast fairly and with sympathy. He is aided by a great cast, particularly Moadi and Bayat, and even the two young girls who play the daughters of the two families are utterly convincing.

Ultimately, “A Separation” sheds a light on the nature of truth and belief, and what binds people together and breaks them apart.  The result is a compelling film that stays in the mind, long after the closing scene.