A Separation doesn't offer easy answers

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      Starring Peyman Moadi and Leila Hatami. In Farsi with English subtitles. Rated G. Opens Friday, January 20, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas

      When we meet the couple involved in the title of A Separation, they are facing the viewer—a judge, actually. A handsome woman with blue jeans and red-dyed hair, Simin (Leila Hatami) is worried that their visas to leave Iran will soon expire, while her bearded, angry-looking husband, Nader (Peyman Moadi), wants to stay. His father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi) is deep into Alzheimer’s, and the couple’s 11-year-old daughter, Termeh—played by Sarina Farhadi, daughter of the film’s writer-director, Asghar Farhadi—seems ambivalent on the subject. Not much is discussed by this family.

      Yes, Nader has agreed to a divorce, but only as one solution to their impasse of where to raise their child. Anyway, the judge is offended by Simin’s suggestion that she doesn’t want to bring up her daughter “in these circumstances”—a formulation that goes unexplained, no doubt wisely. Much of what follows also remains murky, with the participants often hidden behind doors, windows, and arcane rules.

      They are part of the educated middle class—she’s a doctor; he works in a bank—but they’re not as religious as some they meet, including a poorer couple encountered when Simin flees their pleasant, book-lined apartment, leaving Nader in charge of dad and daughter. He hires sad-eyed Razieh (Sareh Bayat), draped in black chador and pious confusion, and one disaster quickly follows another, with everyone’s beliefs and behaviour called into question.

      It’s fascinating to see how another system operates, with lawyerless petitioners making their own cases before obviously overworked adjudicators. In a criminal situation, one careless statement can lead to countercharges, and even the best motives can quickly mushroom into consequences as nasty as Tehran traffic. In the end, we’re still not sure what to think about those who initially parted—except, perhaps, that they have been inexorably separated from the freedom to express who they really are.

      Watch the trailer for A Separation.



      Kamran Kaveh

      Jan 19, 2012 at 3:02pm

      Not the best review. Comparing to many other ones I have already been reading these days about "A Separation". There are few themes in the movie particularly the concepts of "judgement" and "relativity" which got no mention in the review.