Monday, September 17, 2012

A Separation - Movie review

Watched Asghar Farhadi's brilliantly written and directed Iranian movie 'A Separation' (The Separation of Nader and Simin) and am still wondering what it is with these Irani film makers that they make such brilliant movies out of such seemingly ordinary, day-to-day themes. With almost nothing but a normal house, a normal household and its attendant problems and characters that could have been set anywhere in the world, Asghar Farhadi weaves a story that is as taut and as thrilling as any crime or action thriller you could see. So taut is the tension and conflict, so perfect is the way the story is woven that one can only marvel at the genius of the man.

Consider this. A normal household where the wife wants to go abroad to get a new life for her, her husband and their 11 year old daughter. The husband who refuses to go as he has a father suffering from Alzheimer's and is dependent on them. A row between the two and the wife decides to file for divorce - which is not granted. She moves to her mother's house leaving the father and the daughter behind. But she gets him some help to handle the ill father-in-law. In comes a lady with her six year old daughter to help - obviously in some distress. She tries to juggle the work and the old man who suddenly becomes more demanding (incontinent) and what is more - escapes from home. She finds him though, standing in the middle of traffic. And we all heave a sigh of relief.

Next day the husband arrives with his daughter early to find the old man fallen on the floor, his hand tied to the bed post and almost dead. After he revives his father, he finds money missing from his drawer, and when after  a while the lady who was supposed to take care of the old man walks in with her daughter, calls her a thief and pushes her out. Now she falls and suffers a miscarriage. Enter her hot tempered husband who is in tons of debt and who just got out of his creditors clutches.

Faced with charges of murder, the husband says that he did not know that the help was pregnant. The parties trade charges, the wife steps in to bail her husband out, the families get dragged into the sordid affair and no one knows what is fully true. So subtly does the conflict change with one dialogue, one question, one new element or motive that one cannot help but admire how well thought of the plot was. If the plot was brilliant, the resolution is even better as everyone gets their due - poetic justice. Perfect ending as well in True Iranian fashion - go figure it out for yourself.

Every single bit of the movie is crafted with such care and precision that it is wonderful to see such work. There is no attempt to shock or to be big - just being honest to human nature so fully that it reveals itself so seamlessly, each one showing several shades of their character as the pot unfolds deliciously, layer by layer, and you are constantly wondering what happens next. The casting is perfect, the setting is perfect, the actors have done a splendid job and every moment is beautifully exploited. No doubt the movie got the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Film for 2012  - the first Iranian film to win the Award. For a stupendous effort Asghar Farhadi, take a bow. And the same goes to the cast and crew for delivering such a well made movie. Do I recommend it? Emphatically. Watch it soon as you can.


మాగంటి వంశీ మోహన్ said...

Harimohan gaaru

I did watch this movie and it's really a wonderful movie. Last night on our public television station they aired a program called "Media ED" in which they talk about the movies contributions from that part of the world.

Though the main focus of that program was on holly wood movies de-faming / portraying the people from that region as villains, interestingly I was able to grab the tiny message being passed on how and what their movies focus on - like the daily life, activities, surroundings etc etc and how they build fantastic movies around that core. And now I come to the blog world and read your post.

I would say that I was very happy to see this post.

Thanks again

Vamsi M Maganti

PS: Just an FYI - Looks like the young boy Sri Charan whom I referred to you couple years ago, is now a small actor in hollywood and is working in some movies. :)

Anonymous said...

Would it be oriental exaggeration if I say that this composition should be compared to a Thomas Mann novel rather than to any other movie, specially in scope and reach.

Rajendra said...

I saw it sometime ago, and was bowled over. Yeh Irani directors kis chakki ka pisa hua aata khaate hain re?

Harimohan said...

Vamsi garu,
Glad you liked the post. Super stuff these Irani movies. I must thank my good friend Sagar Rachakonda for introducing me to several classic Irani movies (and many other classics apart from those). He is an authority on world movies and simply loves the medium.
Good to hear that Sri Charan is pursuing his dream and is getting on. My best wishes to him.

Harimohan said...

Dear Anon,
Have not read any of Thomas Mann novels and I must say I am now tempted to but I suppose certain movies defy all comparisons. Its surprising how movies get so easily compared with the remotest similarities - takes away some of the fun of enjoying the new characters and settings. But to be original and that too in a league of its own is the work of genius and Farhadi certainly is one for having conjured this one up.

Harimohan said...

I do wonder about that too. To make such movies needs a great deal of courage. Is it the history, the culture or the icons they have in this industries? Needs research.