Winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film and my guess the “Oscar” in the same category.
This disturbing and thought-provoking movie from Iran gifts the viewer a realistic and insightful look into ordinary life of a culture anathema to those who live in the West; it it difficult to rise above your own freedoms and prejudices to grasp the relationships between males and females in a historically male –dominated, controlled society. A society where religion dictates and often smothers individuality.
A conflicted couple, seeking divorce; their 11-year-old daughter ripped asunder; an octogenarian father, suffering from Alzheimer’s; a concoction smoldering with angst, intrigue, destructiveness. Director Asghar Farhadi creates a portrait of a family in tumult: “Simin” (beautiful Leila Hatami) wants to leave Iran, seeking a better life for her 11-year-old daughter, “Termeh”(Sarina Farhadi, daughter of the director); “Nader”, her husband (Peyman Maadi) refuses because of his ailing father, his stringent inflexibility breeds antagonism and strife; Termeh, confused, stays with her father; Simin moves back into her parents home.
Nader hires a caregiver to help with his father, hence catastrophe strikes and escalates to Shakespearean proportions.
I saw this film a few weeks ago in Los Angeles and the potency of its message has resonated and forced me to reconsider my negativity concerning the restrictions Iranian women are forced to endure: garb, marital constraints, employment, religion; what women in the West recognize as a reduction and diminishment of their rights are willingly embraced by many women in the Islamic world. Western invasion is glimpsed in fissures, flashes: makeup, blue jeans, modification of the chador, hijab, burka; the internet has pulverized boundaries and has leveled the globe.
The most remarkable aspect of the film is its contemporary aesthetic; Farhadi, filming under a political ideology where censorship is undisputed, allows the spectator to divine his/her own conclusions; he is completely nonjudgmental, lacking pedagogy; each character vacillates between life- altering decisions, thick with complexities, frustrations; maneuverability shrinking as the situation escalates and all paths to a righteous, fair solution fade.
From commencement to conclusion the viewer is allowed to “fill in the blanks”; the universality of “A Separation” lies in the dynamics, ethics, conundrums that all share, resulting in unification, not separation.