Saturday, March 10, 2012

"A Separation" (Language - Persian) (2011) - Movie Review

I know many of my friends mention their reason to go see a film is to escape from the reality. I think they would not want to see “A Separation” because much like real life resolve is not the resolve we get in this film. What we get is a continuous process of ever failing attempt on being numb and be stale to words and actions. We cannot. I would though would love for my friends to see this film as it says so much about the art of film that is dripping with reality in pain, pleasure, ego and love.

The film begins with Simin (Leila Hatami) and Nader (Peyman Moadi) in a court for divorce. The reason being Simin’s wish to leave the country while Nader cannot leave his Alzheimer’s affected father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi). That is their disagreement which has gone enough for Simin to pull the plug. They still love each other and their 11 year old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) is caught in between them as it is the terrible ordeal every kid goes through when the parents break up.

Nader is a modern man leading a comfortable middle class life working in a bank. He wants his kid to grow up to be strong and intelligent. He is a dedicated father doing his duty in guiding her daughter for betterment. He is a dedicated son wherein he is going through with this though he is in slow denial that his wife will be back. He is the man we begin rooting for and we see Simin in a bad light despite our empathy on her situation. She is caring for her daughter to have a better future and Iran seems to be not the place she would like that to be. Alzheimer’s is a deadly disease on torturing the loved ones on a daily basis. Nader’s father has no idea of his existence but he is there and we are crying along with Nader on this.

The film is not about their separation though that is the spine the film runs on. The real turmoil comes in when Nader hires a Razieh (Sareh Bayat) who comes with her cute and adorable daughter Somayeh (Kimia Hosseini) to take care of his father. Deeply religious and trying to make her living as we learn that her husband is struggling to find work, Razieh is going her own rough time. The first day for her does not go good as Nader’s father soils himself and she calls her religious advisor on whether to clean him or not. We are in wonderment of the deep rooted religion. This is not her hesitation in being uncomfortable with the situation but more about the repercussion of something written. Yet you will see her pain and reasons.

In this happens an incident which turns the whole situation into a complete different predicament. One would think that when bigger troubles and things fall in, it would bring the broken up couple to reconcile. Of course if it is an escaping film but not this. Nader is stubborn beyond his modern attitude. Then we are introduced to Razieh’s husband Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), a man who under normal circumstances has kind eyes and concerned look but when things go astray he loses temper as if that is his only way to deal with things. We learn his troubles in later stages of film. Razieh and Hodjat are struggling to make ends meet and in their ultimate goodness and dedication towards religion and belief cannot take their troubles anymore and begin to act out in unpredictable manner.

The beauty and sadness of Asghar Farhadi’s film is the nature of human in unexpected situations. We see the principled Nader lose his sight, we see devout Razieh doing unspeakable thing of leaving Nader’s dad unattended yet deeply human and we see Hodjat’s reason for his situation, we see Simin’s side of inability to have a common conversation with Nader and we see the children deeply affected by their parents’ set of actions. This is life at its worst and getting disintegrated right in front of our eyes. We cannot do much about it and we see the people not doing much about it. Despite their good natured actions, they consistently cheat and deceive themselves on the system of not accepting their fault and trying to proceed with a dialogue. And that does not make this reviewer any different as I could see me and anyone becoming like that and posed with the question of choosing the right thing to do and walking away from it. All of them does and that decision pushes the next generation to do that. We see the innocence lost in Termeh as she is asked to be in front of a judge twice and asked the most difficult questions.

“A Separation” consistently goes from one deadlock to another. The actors bring that tense and ordeal on to the screen with great command. This is a drama that unfolds step by step and you hope at every moment that these people would come to an amicable situation and see it floundering as reality grips its ugly claw over them. In the end all we are left is sadness and how unjust and potent when emotions combine with stubborn nature in anyone causing incredible pain we all endure. Yet we go ahead with our lives fighting through it taking actions and making decisions. Why do we do what we do? May be because we see the simple convincing moments of Nader with Termeh, Nader with his father, Termeh and Somayeh, Nader with his mother-in-law and the reasonability he has in the end with Razieh and Hodjat. And we do not see him share the same with Simin though we know how he loves her in the way male ego lets him to. “A Separation” has of course the cross section of two classes in Iran and we see the flurry of cars and traffic in it. Yet we can directly take the drama and put it anywhere in planet with similar results.

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