A Separation

A Separation

(PG) Hopscotch DVD/BD/Digital download

This superb 2012 Academy Award-winning foreign language film explores the complex character and demands of truth, honesty, love and justice.

Upper middle-class Iranian couple, Nader and Simin, are on the verge of divorce. Simin wants to leave the country with Nader and their eleven-year old daughter, Termeh, but Nader — who’s responsible for his Alzheimer’s afflicted father — refuses. Simin moves out and the family employ Razieh, a young, poor and religiously devout woman, to care for Nader’s father during the day. When Nader returns home unexpectedly to find Razieh gone and his father unconscious on the floor, it sparks a series of accusations in which truth is contested and characters stricken by the competing claims of honesty, justice and loyalty.

This film brilliantly uses a simple narrative to explore themes of psychological and ethical complexity, while also subtly weaving threads of gender, class and religious impacts throughout the drama. The views and experiences of each character in turn emerge as credible and compelling, crystallising the difficulty of assessing human motivation. The opening and closing “courtroom” scenes feature Nader, Simin and Termeh speaking directly to camera, placing the audience in the daunting role of judge.

A sense of slow-burning, mounting pressure powers the film. Small moments — the slamming of a door, an averted gaze — become weighted with intensity and significance. Ordinary domestic scenes convey worlds of emotion: a shot of Nader bathing his father becomes a wordless pieta of suffering and despair.

Script and direction by Asghar Farhadi are impeccable, and the ensemble cast deliver outstanding performances. Sarina Farhadi is exceptional as the sensitive and astute Termeh, who must face a terrible decision.

A powerful film that resonates with reality in all its complexity and mystery.

Katrina Samaras

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