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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

259. A Separation

    It seems Middle East dramas come along like vampire movies.
    You don't see one for a while and then suddenly the screens are awash with them.
    To be fair, my immersion in Middle East culture is a bit of a fluke. A couple of the four films I've seen over the last three days have been catch-up movies, others, like this, show I can be ahead of the game.
    A Separation is due for release in the UK on July 1. I have a screener, thanks to Jake at Artificial Eye.
    It is out of the same movie house, Memento International, which made Tehroun and again gives a startling insight into life inside Iran.
    Again, those western audiences with open minds will note that Iranians are ordinary people taking on the hurdles of life which are faced in every country in the world.
    What is eye-opening about Asghar Farhadi's movie is that it lays bare the Iranian justice system - and how easy it is to end up in jail.
    Let me spin back, A Separation begins with the divorce negotiations of 30-something couple Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami).
    Leila wants to start a new life abroad, Nader is having none of it and they are arguing over custody of their 11-year-old daughter (Sarina Farhadi).
    Their situation is complicated further by the fact that Nader's father lives with them and needs constant care because he has Alzheimer's Disease.
    The upshot is that Leila goes to live with her parents and finds a housekeeper which she sends to Nader.
    However, the housekeeper (Sareh Bayat) is never comfortable with the situation. Her religion and, therefore, her modesty prevents her from handling the personal needs of the old man and she seems to be ill herself.
    Eventually, there is a confrontation, which results in a fiery legal battle.
    A Separation has several tight strands.
    The relationship between husband and wife is fractious and totally realistic as is the effect on their daughter.
    The desperate slide into dementia of Nader's father is heartbreaking but his attempts to look after him border on the heroic.
    And then there is an examination of the legal processes in which people have no representation but have to persuade a 'judge' whether they are in the right or not, facing long jail sentences for 'crimes' which would not be recognised in the west.
    Hanging over all of the this is religion. There is a genuine fear of telling a lie at the same time as holding the Quran. This is used as a resolution on several occasions.
    Mrs W and I would both recommend A Separation. If I were to quibble it would be over its two-hour length.
    But I would say the performances of all of the actors are top rate and would make special mention of Sarina Farhadi. The young girl is very impressive.
    So, I'm giving A Separation 7.5/10.

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259. A Separation

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