Director: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Peyman Moaadi, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, Shahab Hosseini, Sarina Farhadi
Duration: 120 min.
Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader and daughter Termeh. Simin sues for divorce when Nader refuses to leave behind his Alzheimer's suffering father. Her request having failed, Simin goes back to her parents, but Termeh decides to stay with Nader...
A Separation is a film written and directed by Asghar Farhadi. It premiered at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival, winning the Golden Bear for Best Film, and sweeping the Silver Bear awards for Best Actor and Actress which were given to the entire ensemble cast. It is also Iran's official submission to the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.
Farhadi has delivered a flawlessly written and rendered film set in contemporary Iran. One that has a deceptively simple story but unravels with multiple layers of complexity while staying completely realistic and believable. With a minimalistic and natural style reminiscent of films from the recent Romanian New Wave, A Separation is both foreign and familiar. It succeeds not only with an accurate portrayal of present day life in Iran, but also an universally accessible story that poses valid questions no matter what country or background the viewer happens to be from.
It starts out with what seems like a straight forward ho-hum divorce and custody squabble between Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami), arguing their cases in front of a judge. This "small issue" however soon spirals into a moving and captivating mystery and examination of many aspects of modern society. Here the director takes no sides and fairly lays out the reasons and motivations for every single one of his characters. Whether man or woman, rich or poor, traditional or progressive, religious or secular, there are no heroes or villains, only people who try to do what they think is the right thing. The only clear message is that it's the children who pay the cost when adults fight.
The entire cast is outstanding and completely deserving of their accolades. Most notable is the director's own daughter Sarina Farhadi who plays Termeh, the 11-year-old caught between Nader and Simin's conflict who is forced to make an impossible decision. Her performance is quiet yet poised and emotionally devastating and is possibly the most sympathetic character in the film, alongside Somayeh (Kimia Hosseini) the other innocent child dragged into a situation beyond her understanding by her parents.
This is a wonderfully crafted, powerfully entertaining and thought provoking drama. It's easily one of the best films of the year, and should at the very least garner an Oscar nomination come January. As of today it's my front runner in the race.
— Bonjour Tristesse