When loyalty to family drives a wedge
DIRECTOR: Asghar Farhadi
CAST: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat and Sarina Farhadi
CLASSIFICATION: 13 VS
RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes
A real look at separation.
Nader (played by Leila Hatami) and Siminn (Peyman Moaadi) are sitting in front of a judge when we first meet them. Siminn is unflinching in his resolve: he wants to stay in Iran and take care of his father, a friendly man who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s. His wife, Nadar, will also not be moved on the matter of moving away from Iran to a new, better life elsewhere. What difference does it make, she asks Siminn and the judge, if Siminn leaves his father because his father doesn’t even know that Siminn is his son? To this he responds: “I know he is my father.”
The judge rules that their 11-year-old daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi), must decide whether she wants to move with her mother or stay with her father.
When Nadar moves out of the marital home, Siminn hires Razieh (a mysterious but highly religious woman) to look after his house and his father during the day. But she comes with her own set of troubles and that’s just the beginning of the end for everyone involved.
The film won the the 2012 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, making it the first Iranian movie to achieve this feat.
It also went on to scoop quite a few notable awards, including the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Golden Globe Awards. Rightly so.
With English subtitles throughout the film, Farhadi offers audiences an art house film that cuts to a fast pace but relies on superb actors who have the ability to show and not just tell the story behind the story. There are many close-ups that convey a more personal connection. The burdens that all these characters carry in silence are thus emphasised. Unlike the norm in other genres, there is no real big climax and resolve in A Separation. There’s just life. And when it comes to the events that take place, as Brenda Fassie once sang, life is going on.
Here, Farhadi’s choice of colour helps to evoke a feeling of emptiness and a situation where hope once thrived. There are the blocks of solid colours like all black (right up to the hijab), soft army green and browns. There is light humour in how oblivious Siminn’s elderly father is to everything. In how he tries people’s patience. But those are also the things that warm the heart. At its core, A Separation is about a family that’s gone all haywire. And while the audience isn’t spoon-fed about whether there will be a happy ending or at least something good to come out of everything, it is given a dose of a reality that anyone can relate to.
If you liked… Hamoun and Incendies… you will like A Separation