Sunday, 30 December 2012

A Separation (2011) - ★★★★★

Director: Asghar Farhadi
Writers: Asghar Farhadi
Stars: Payman Maadi, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, Shahab Hosseini, Sarina Farhadi

This film is intense, mentally and emotionally. At first it almost begs you to pick a side by showing each characters personalities so effectively. By the end of the film, you're left debating whether there was a right or wrong side. It's one of the most thought provoking and brilliant modern films I've seen, and surely deserved to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards.

The central core to the story begins with a father, Nader (Peyman Maadi), and mother, Simin (Leila Hatami), who argue about living abroad. The mother wishes to live abroad to provide better opportunities for their only daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi), however, the father refuses to go because he wishes to stay in Iran and take care of his father who suffers from Alzheimers. This leads Simin determined to get a divorce and leave the country. In the middle of this mess is a disturbing story involving a pregnant woman named Razieh (Sareh Bayat), and her financially and mentally unstable husband Hojjat (Shahab Hosseini). The lives of these people collide into one of the most intriguing story's I've seen in a film.

What makes A Separation work so well is that no character is 'characterized' as the bad guy. They are good people, each are relatively nice (excluding Hojjat) yet are different in so many ways. It is the differences, disagreements and events that transpire in this movie that make the characters so unique and interesting. This film is a great way to study the human conditions of fear and depression.

The acting throughout is absolutely perfect from each and every actor. The two standouts to me were Sareh Bayat as the pregnant Razieh, and Sarina Farhadi as the daughter of the separating parents. Bayat gave such an honest and brutal portrayal of a woman bound to hard work and secrecy by circumstance. She was foolish in many ways, but I couldn't help but feel more sorry for her than any other character. Farhadi played the daughter torn apart by her parents separation. You could see the stress and heartbreak build in her gradually throughout the film, which made the story come across with dire importance to her wellbeing.

There aren't many films nowadays that draw a discussion from the audiences immediately after it has finished. When my family and I finished A Separation, we discussed it for about an hour, each with different opinions on the characters and motives. The one thing we ended up agreeing on: A Separation is a great movie.

I loved this film. It was honest, meticulously acted, perfectly written and one of the best films of 2012.

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