If you are passionate about movies, then it's really bad to miss a movie like 'A Separation.' It serves as a quiet reminder of how good it’s possible for movies to be. Sophisticated and universal yet deeply intimate, A Separation is an delicately conceived family drama that has the power of a top-notch thriller.
Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) are a middle-class couple seeking a divorce. She wants to move abroad with their 11-year-old daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi). Termeh wants to stay with her father. When Simin moves out to live with her parents, Nader hires a caretaker, Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to look after his father during the day. This devout young mother is soon overwhelmed by the task of attending to a man who can no longer speak, dress, or wash himself. One afternoon, for reasons that aren’t clear at first, she leaves the old man alone while she runs an errand. The consequences of that act—and of Nader’s outburst when he comes home to find his father unattended—will eventually spiral into personal and legal disaster for both families, Nader’s and Razieh’s.
I’ll leave it here, since one of A Separation’s great strengths is the way it gradually reveals the complicated half-truths and strategic evasions in each party’s version of the story. The truth becomes less and less clear-cut as the film goes on.
The ensemble cast—especially Maadi as the unemployed, short-tempered, ethically conflicted Nader—is extraordinary. As has become a tradition in Iranian cinema, the child characters are not just things but essential participants in the story, and both young actresses—Sarina Farhadi, the director’s daughter, as the wise Termeh and the caretaker’s daughter, a little girl—deliver impeccable naturalistic performances. This is great filmmaking: In Farsi, with English subtitles the film is brilliantly shot. Edited a largely conversational drama as riveting as a suspense thriller. Director Farhadi is a top-shelf international filmmaker, he relies heavily on the slightest, most graceful subtleties on the part of actors.
What's fascinating is how the various issues—religious or practical—are played out in these two quite different families, yet always come down to unresolvable differences between rebellious women and their stiff-necked, controlling men. The viewer's sympathies are always engaged, though it's impossible to take sides. Everyone has their reasons, but not all reasons are equal. Just as we think we're identifying with one character, another will reveal new dimensions and our concerns shift. The director keeps the emotional story believable, never straying into melodrama. The film ensures the audience, that they will be captivated and possibly haunted days afterward.
A Separation is a landmark film. No way will you be able to get it out of your head.
A Separation - Imdb