I feel like I don’t need to say anything more about this incredible film and you should just stop reading and sprint to see the it now – but the boss would probably fire me. So here goes my attempted at doing this masterpiece justice.
A Separation is a drama about an Iranian middle-class couple who separate. The separation arises when Simin (Leila Hatami) wants to leave Iran to give her daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi), a better life, while her husband, Nader (Peyman Moadi), feels the needs to stay and look after his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
After Simin goes to stay with her mother, while she sorts out her affairs, Nader is forced to hire a caretaker to look after his father while he is at work. While he thinks this will take care of his troubles so he can start putting his and Termeh’s lives back in order, he discovers that his maid has been lying to him, and leaving his father tied to a bed while she goes out during the day. The story takes a radical twist which lands the whole family in and out of courts, and their lives in danger.
Although the characters in the film face similar obstacles that someone in New Zealand may face – a parent with Alzheimer’s, divorce, concern over your child’s wellbeing – the culture and religion bring out issues that most of us have never even thought about. Like changing an old mans clothing for him after he wets himself, or requiring your husband’s permission to have a job.
This film is so far removed from big Hollywood blockbusters, and dare I say it, a thousand times better. The main characters are good-looking, but not your typical Bradgelina, while the rest of the cast looks like your typical person at your local supermarket, realistic – except very modestly dressed. The storyline is impeccable. It is rather simple, while being one of the most complex films I have seen. There were no heroes or villains. No good-guys or bad-guys. I wasn’t rooting for anyone to win, and no one really does win. It’s just a simple slice-of-a-competely-different-life story. There isn’t even any soundtrack, the film is completely void of music until the closing scene.
My only extremely minor complaint would be the length. It is over 2 hours which is normally way past my attention span, but the storyline and the fast moving editing kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through.
The realness of A Separation made me feel normal. There was no over-the-top acting, no ridiculously gorgeous people or far-fetched story. This film has enough accolades, awards and nominations to fill Iran (although Farhadi was initially banned from making the film by the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance) and I can see why. Now is about the time you stop reading, call your wife/husband/boyfriend/friend/mum/enemy and head to the cinema.
Reviewed by: Nerice Collins
Releases Thursday 19 April, 2012.