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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

iranian oscar film a separation

The Best Foreign Oscar film reminds life is not separate from who live it.

‘A Separation’ is about the gulf between necessities and luxuries, responsibilities and aspirations, and lives that are torn between truths and lies. The religious, economical and gender dichotomies and disparities play a crucial role in this dramatic Iranian social labyrinth that deserved the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year. More than a couple’s separation – the issue here is to leave Iran for the sake of a child or reamin for the sake of the father. A battle between tradition and modernity, the film is full of questions captured in the daily routines of life. The audience is the judge. Life is at first manageable and easy going, as Nader the protagonist seems to think, but he encounters problems and issues along the way, making life as rough as a sandstorm.

The writer-director Asghar Farhadi scans a few lives that are ultimately inseparable and he seems to say Tehran – with its bustle and beauty – is not very far from us. Along with Iranian film gems Makhbalbaf and Panahi, Farhadi builds his sequences cleverly forcing us to go back to the early scenes to see who said what. There is a conflict between ‘I ought to’ and ‘I want to’ among the characters, who range from an upper middle class banker to a cobbler and a pregnant maidservant. The film takes an empathetic tone with the 11-year-old sixth grader, who is sandwiched between her poles apart parents even when the film ‘narratively’ tries to be neutral.

A contrasting study is well sketched between the apparently well to do, city-dwelling young girl and the most-of-the-time silent daughter of the home nurse, who hails from the countryside. There are undertones that are fully baked but half served – like the deeply religious woman who keeps secrets from her husband, a sick old man who gradually loses the ability to speak, and a dominating husband who is also a 'self-beater'.

This self-inflicted pain is part of the film’s structure. As the film gently progresses, the audience is doomed – not negatively – to witness the accounts of the suppressed feelings of the characters. In one scene the hero, separated from his wife and frustrated by the maid, bathes his frail father and sobs uncontrollably without the old man noticing.

The wife is also seen crying to an unresponsive father-in-law – he suffers from Alzheimer’s – saying ‘he never asked me to stay’. The veiled beautiful faces of the young generation seem like candles – lighted but burning within. Watch it if you would like to be showered in that candle light.

1 comment:

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