Periodically there’s a film that resonates long after viewing; marinating in one’s memory for days, oftentimes forever.
Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi’s (“A Separation”) “The Past” is such a movie; simplicity balloons to complex; ambiguities, seemingly clarified, become murky; empathy, fickly flows from one character to another as “the past’ is sporadically revealed.
Bernice Bejo as “Marie” is astounding as a woman incapable of controlling, solely reacting, to a situation; a mother of two and as many failed marriages, embarking on another romantic commitment with “Samir” (Tahar Rahim) a man whose wife is in a coma and young son “Fouad” (poignantly profound performance by Elyes Aguis) are in constant conflict between the past, present and a vague, misty future.
We meet Marie, and her soon to be ex-husband, Iranian “Ahmad” (sensitive depiction by Ali Mosaffa) at a Paris airport; Marie is bruised, bemused, ambivalent in her reaction to Ahmad; he has been gone for four years; above the fray, a controlling moral barometer; attached to her two children by a previous marriage; “Lucie” (stunning, painful, morose portrait by Pauline Burlet) the eldest daughter ripped asunder, by Maria’s affair with the married Samir; a brooding teenager dishing huge portions of angst on her mother and Samir.
Marie’s home and its disarray is a metaphor for life and its diverse choices; spilled paint, referencing ill-advised decisions; peeling walls, unmade beds signaling the loss of dignity, concern, control over one’s inner refinement; stumbling, unwashed bodies, craving, purification of the spirit; salvation from known turpitude. These average, unforgettable people cling to one’s psyche; masterful, intimate camera work magnetically suck the viewer into this disparate, strange, yet familiar milieu.