A Separation (Jodai-e Nader az Simin)

A Separation

Aren’t you ashamed? Are you a man?

Call me prejudiced if you like, but I didn’t think much of Iranian film before now. I just never really thought of Iran as a country that would produce viable films worthy of being ranked among any other modern-day country of today. Needless to say, Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation shut me up real quick. Within the first half hour, I was hooked, and the film just got better and better from there. It’s incredibly dense, and powerfully affecting, and it became another of those films that revitalized my quest, and made me believe that there were still a great many truly great films left to experience.

The story is amazingly tightly woven; the little details of what happens in the film always come into play later in a significant way – not a line in the script is out of place. No wonder this got an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay, a rarity for a foreign film. I love the multiple layers everything works on; even with the subplot that takes up a majority of the film’s screentime and attention, everything still seems to be about the feud between the mother and the father, at least on some level, and who their daughter should ultimately end up with. The camerawork is, I believe, all handheld, which I’ve decried in the past as being amateurish and revealing of filmmakers who want to be cutting-edge and don’t realize the necessity of one of cinema’s oldest tools, the tripod. Here, though, I got it; it gives the film an extremely docu-drama feel, like we’re watching a documentary on this family and their hardships, and it made everything that much more real. Everything, from the performances to the filming, is just amazingly real, and incredibly engrossing as a result.

This is a film that definitely needs to be seen by people who consider themselves a true fan of the cinema. It’s riveting, it’s captivating, and it’s spectacularly written and performed. You really can’t ask for much more than what this film will give you. The only reason this isn’t getting a perfect score from me is that it sticks to it’s grounding, and doesn’t really have a wow factor that puts it over the top, but it doesn’t need it; the film would become too much of a caricature if they included anything like that, rather than staying real and empathetical, as it should be. This is one that I would want everyone reading this to see, even if you’re not into subtitles; the movie itself is so immersive that you are barely able to comprehend that you are reading subtitles. This was a great film all around, and I can see it staying on the list for a good long while, if not permanently.

Arbitrary Rating: 9/10

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