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Aug 272012
 




(For SI blog reader unknownvirus who first recommended this gem and accurately predicted it’d win the Oscar)

Salaam Aleikum, I have a religious question.

I am working in a house.

There’s an old man I’m supposed to care for.

I wanted to ask, pardon me, but he has wet his pants.

I wanted to know if I change him, will it count as a sin?

- Old man’s caretaker Razieh to the clerics (??) in A Separation

Producer, Director and Writer – Asghar Farhadi
Cast: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat and Sarina Farhadi
Budget: $800,000
Release Date: February, 2011
Awards: Oscar, Golden Globe etc

A Separation is a brilliant film.

Richly deserving of the Best Foreign Film Oscar, the Golden Globe and several other encomiums heaped upon it.

The kind of film that the Bollywood mongrels will never be able to make in a million years!

SI has not seen a better film than A Separation in the last 12 months

At times, I wonder why I’m even reviewing this majestic drama for all ye schmucks forever bent down at the altar of the Chutiya Bachchans and Chutiya Khans.

Collapse of a Family

A Separation is a simple Iranian family drama.

But one that’s told beautifully.

None of that high octane shooting, leaping and chasing stuff, the computer graphics gimmickry or the item numbers and picturesque foreign locales (so beloved of our Bollywood producers) in this film.

The opening scene is a divorce court.

A couple is facing the camera and explaining the rationale for the divorce application.

This is not your standard couple approaching a divorce court. The two partners Simin and her husband Nader still love each other and, of course, their young daughter Termeh.

But there’s a problem in Eden. Otherwise, the couple wouldn’t be at the divorce court, right?

Simin has got a visa and is desperate to leave Iran for a better life abroad. But Nader refuses to accompany her.

Soon, Simin packs up her bags and quits the house, leaving behind her 11-year-old daughter Termeh, Nader and her senile father-in-law who cannot take care of himself.

Realistic Take

When Nader appoints a young lady Razieh to take care of his senile father, things slowly start spiraling out of control and ultimately comes crashing horribly down on the family in ways that no one ever expected.

Before we know, Nader is arrested for murder!

The movie is a highly realistic exercise in its portrayal of events that could happen to any family anywhere in these times.

The acting is all round excellent, the photography pleasing and there’s not a single frame out of place.

Leila Hatami plays Simin, Peyman Moaadi is the tense, harried Nader, Shahab Hosseini is cast as the angry, depressed Hodjat and Sareh Bayat is Hodjat’s wife and caretaker Razieh.

Each one is superb and together they deliver a riveting drama rarely seen on the screen these days.

Director Asghar Farhadi’s real-life daughter Sarina Farhadi is excellent as the young Termeh caught in the maelstrom of the turmoil and emotions wrought by her parents’ separation.

If Sarina were in the U.S., she would be the next Jennifer Lawrence.

Remarkable Film

I’ve always considered brilliant those movies that are deeply rooted in the local milieu and bring to life on the screen a vivid drama set in the culture and times of the place.

Not these wild Bollywood flights of escapist fantasy that are completely divorced from the everyday lives of people.

Within the framework of the divorce proceedings and its horrid impact on the family, A Separation richly captures the current social milieu of Iran, the aspirations of its middle class, the status of women, the role of religion, rigidity of the court, the plight of the ailing aged folks when everyone in the family goes to work or school and the choices the underprivileged are forced to make for sheer survival.

It requires a filmmaker of Asghar Farhadi’s talents to encapsulate the social settings and weave it together so deftly into the family drama.

Farhadi’s achievements are all the more amazing given the constraints filmmakers and other artistes operate under in Iran.

What I mistakenly considered as sloppy editing in one instance turned out to be a nice twist that’s disclosed only toward the end.

Above all, what sets apart A Separation from the countless movies that make their debut every Friday is the top-notch writing.

By the way, the film was also nominated for the Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars.

You don’t need a superhero or a Tiger to light up the screen with simian antics.

A Separation is ample proof that there’s rich drama in the everyday lives of even ordinary people just waiting to be captured on celluloid.

All you need is a talented director, a meticulously imaginative writer and a stellar cast.

SearchIndia.com strongly recommends A Separation. The movie should be available on Netflix, Amazon and Blockbuster in the U.S.

If you’re going to watch just just one movie this year, A Separation should be that move.

  4 Responses to “A Separation – Gorgeous Divorce Drama”

  1. Thanks for the review.

    I will watch it soon.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    It’s come to RedBox too!

  2. I watched it last week.

    Nice film and nice review.

    Can you review the independent films from India rather than popular cinema, as it produces trash for the most part (You regretted many times, why do you torture yourself ? )

    Truth be said, I don’t agree with some of your film reviews (less likely).

    I watched some of your recommendations, they are decent.

    Another cool thing is that you reply to every comment, even to the nonsense.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    You write: Can you review the independent films from India rather than popular cinema,

    Unfortunately, most Indian independent movies do not release in the U.S.

    Only the chutiya Indian cinema makes it to America.

    For instance, Gangs of Wasseypur has still not released here.

  3. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Just finished watching.

    I cannot imagine Bollywood mongrels making any movie even half as good as this one.

    I was particularly curious about Tehran’s middle class culture. They seemed to paint a totally different picture than what we generally see / hear in media. Quick search online shows they have a fairly good standard of living, great education programs, good public infrastructure etc.

    This is my second Iranian movie. The first one i watched was Turtles can fly and I immensely loved it. You should watch that as well.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. You write: I cannot imagine Bollywood mongrels making any movie even half as good as this one.

    Bollywood mongrels can’t/won’t make a movie like A Separation because the mongrel audience is incapable of appreciating class. All that Indian moviegoers crave for is murderers like Salman Khan, buffoons like Akshay Kumar or skimpily clad girls like Katrina or Kareena parading their wares.

    2. I will watch Turtles can Fly.

    3. Iran is an oddball in the Middle East. There’s a vibrant, vocal political and Middle class and a fair bit of ‘culture’ in the conventional sense of the term. Although Democracy in the American sense is in short supply there, Iran is not as barbaric as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan etc.

    That said, there is also a hardline whacko minority (led by the ‘Supreme Leader’) that rules with an iron hand and often imprisons people rather easily, including children of prominent politicians. The latest issue of New Yorker has an interesting piece on Iran and the end of the current President’s term in the not too distant future.