A Separation (PG)

Film

Drama

Leila Hatami and Peyman Moaadi in A Separation

Leila Hatami and Peyman Moaadi in A Separation

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Jun 28 2011

In the UK, we’re used to seeing Iranian films that offer a sideways or restricted view of life or cinema – films from the likes of Abbas Kiarostami or Jafar Panahi. The latter sent a new work, ‘This is Not a Film’, to Cannes this year in defiance of a 20-year ban on making films, while Kiarostami’s last Tehran-shot film, ‘Shirin’, was an exclusively interior, formal game consisting only of shots of women watching an unseen film.

But here’s an Iranian film that plunges us into life in Tehran with an urgent sense of reality and framed by a style of handheld realism more familiar from the likes of French director Laurent Cantet’s ‘The Class’ or the best of recent Romanian cinema, such as ‘The Death of Mr Lazarescu’. It takes place over a few weeks, perhaps a few months, but it’s one of those films that tricks you into believing it’s unfolding in real time, even though what it doesn’t show – what it actively conceals – is as important to its ethically teasing dynamic as what it reveals.

We meet thirtysomething couple Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) in the divorce courts, a front-on shot hiding the judge but revealing an awkward rapport between the pair as Simin insists she wants to leave Iran. She doesn’t want their ten-year-old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) to grow up ‘in these circumstances’, she says. Nader disagrees, not least because his elderly father with Alzheimer’s lives with them and needs care.

The situation is unresolved. Simin moves in with her parents, while Nader hires a woman, Razieh (Sareh Bayat), with her own domestic pressures, to look after his father while he’s at work. She’s from a lower class, and her presence helps the film in its effort to examine differing attitudes in Iran to status, gender and religion – an examination that never overwhelms a drama that puts to the fore strong writing, characterisation and acting.

A marital separation and new domestic situation may seem trivial or everyday, but it’s this new set-up which proves a catalyst to events – best left unrevealed – of potentially life-changing proportions. Small decisions have big repercussions and we’re never sure who’s right or wrong as an intensifying debate drags in other protagonists, including Razieh’s hot-headed husband, Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), Razieh’s daughter, a teacher and a judge.

‘A Separation’ is lively and suspenseful as both drama and debate. It employs a tricksy moral compass that swings all over the place as we see its story from various viewpoints. It prods gently at middle-class entitlement of the how-can-this-be-happening-to-me variety, but it also avoids the trap of coming down on the side of less worldly characters. If it reserves a significant amount of sympathy for anyone, it’s for the side players – the old man and the kids – to whom its gaze keeps returning, refusing to forget those outside the eye of the storm but equally bruised by it.
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Release details

Rated:

PG

UK release:

Fri Jul 1, 2011

Duration:

123 mins

Cast and crew

Screenwriter:

Asghar Farhadi

Cast:

Shahab Hosseini, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, Peyman Moaadi

Director:

Asghar Farhadi

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:17
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
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  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|36
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JSBenton

Extraordinary film, very fine, reminding us how profound a film can be while neither ironic nor didactic. Wonderfully acted, and certainly my favorite film of this decade. It leaves one with a terrible pang at the possibility that some would have military conflict with Iran, a tragedy that must be avoided.

JSBenton

Extraordinary film, very fine, reminding us how profound a film can be while neither ironic nor didactic. Wonderfully acted, and certainly my favorite film of this decade. It leaves one with a terrible pang at the possibility that some would have military conflict with Iran, a tragedy that must be avoided.

Saam

This movie was so real that it was like somebody hid a camera inside there house and starting filming there life. This was one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life. Some of the Iranian films and or movies are usually fake. You actually felt like you were in there life and you were watching every moment in their life.

Saam

This movie was so real that it was like somebody hid a camera inside there house and starting filming there life. This was one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life. Some of the Iranian films and or movies are usually fake. You actually felt like you were in there life and you were watching every moment in their life.

Barbara

iIn this movie story it is shown that the adults are laying and the young ones quickly learn from them...happen everywhere around the world...not only in Iran...one of this movies to force you to think.. first innocent but than... so sad, happen evrywhere ...

Barbara

iIn this movie story it is shown that the adults are laying and the young ones quickly learn from them...happen everywhere around the world...not only in Iran...one of this movies to force you to think.. first innocent but than... so sad, happen evrywhere ...

hamid

there is a depth common within iranians that cannot be put in words. iranian movies try to show this. it is like a special ingredient that is grown only in iran. it is a bonding and love for humanity that is beyond religion and values. you have to gaze beyond to see it.

hamid

there is a depth common within iranians that cannot be put in words. iranian movies try to show this. it is like a special ingredient that is grown only in iran. it is a bonding and love for humanity that is beyond religion and values. you have to gaze beyond to see it.

Prayash Giria

Brilliant is the word. Realistic but equally gripping and moving. A must watch, and quite frankly, the best film of the year, across the board.

Prayash Giria

Brilliant is the word. Realistic but equally gripping and moving. A must watch, and quite frankly, the best film of the year, across the board.

rita cohen

Fascinating film. So realistic and shocking. Lots of twists and turns and the ending was a catalyst for conversation with other viewers. One of the most interesting films I have seen this year. An eye opener on the complexity of modern life in Iran.

rita cohen

Fascinating film. So realistic and shocking. Lots of twists and turns and the ending was a catalyst for conversation with other viewers. One of the most interesting films I have seen this year. An eye opener on the complexity of modern life in Iran.

Letizia

I don't if I have to cry for all of them or just try to think about them . a brillant movie

Letizia

I don't if I have to cry for all of them or just try to think about them . a brillant movie

Natasha

The best work of art I have seen in a very long while. Refined, realistic, riveting and truly engaging script and acting. Every member of the cast does an outstanding portrayal of their part. a must see.

Natasha

The best work of art I have seen in a very long while. Refined, realistic, riveting and truly engaging script and acting. Every member of the cast does an outstanding portrayal of their part. a must see.

USMAN LATIF KHAWAJA

At the throbbing screaming and moaning heart of this emotionally rivetting and traumatically tragic contemporary Iranian drama is'' anger'' in all its seething glory ; it consumes and devours human soul destroying the conscience temporarily ; everyone here is infuriated with their lies , and how they channel and fumigate the wrath forms this ferociously realistic debate about ego worship,moral quandries and social justice , yet it makes us feel an empathy for all these flawed characters that is the most preciptious miracle cinema has pulled in decades . Asghar Farhadi's fifth Iranian movie deals with themes of marital seperation as a wife challenges her 14 year old marriage on grounds her husband refuses to travel abroad with her, where there are more oppurtunities for her 10 year old daughter ,the husband deeply committed to caring for his alzheimer afflicted mentally disabled father refuses to leave Iran and thus the wife in chagrin moves to her parents home while the daughter decides to stay with the father . The couple employ a devout chador-clad women with a 5 year old daughter to care for the disabled father but she fails to inform them she is pregnant and working without the permission of her temperamental and unstable husband . Under her own physical stress the maid makes some almost fatal errors of negligence in her duty of care to the helpless demented man and a ferocious altercation arises between her and the son ending in an accident which leads to the most fascinating court room examination of personal dilemmas ,ethical responsibility and individual conscience in the most eventful manner that cinema can conjure . The characters are harrowingly acted by an impeccable cast ; all trying to safegaurd themselves and they make a simple tragedy into a disaster by hiding trivia thus making an incredibly sophisticated and intricately ingenious plot scripted with a genius which makes it entirely ''unpredictable '' ,but the script will not forego them or forfeit the truth as their conscience is at stake and the most sophisticated script cinema has written in ages comes to virtual reality in an informal ,non pretentious Iranian court-room as the two couples, now on opposite sides try to work out an arrangement to satisfy their injured egoes and obstinate human logic . The judicial system is the highlight here as the plaintiff and the defense both face the judge directly without lawyers and any formality ,they harangue, shout and exchange insults while the judge reprimands and rebukes firmly but patiently listens in the most impartial manner .The idea of law and justice is being challenged here as the subjects are in direct debate with the state without any intervening obstacle and this is enough to make this movie a milestone in cinema since the execution is supremely complex and the movie is shot with a gracefully gliding hand held camera with infinitely efficient editing in the most innovative style which makes it poignantly realistic . The confrontation leads to more complications and the script delves into the personal taboos of the characters to seek a redemption and in this case the ''final word'' lies with the word of a woman sworn on Koran ,where her conscience and guilt are here sole responsibility to her own spiritual absolution and the circle of morality and deception comes a full circle . The most powerful scene is thus executed in lingering anguish by the maid when her hotheaded husband insults the court and is ordered to be arrested ,as she pleads for his release and apologises for his wrath producing his anti- psychotic medication ,we see the man she has accused intervene on her behalf , and it is here that mister Farhadi has redeemed the human race of all its lies and misdemeanours as this is ''pure compassionate joy'' to behold on screen and this needs to be witnessed by one and all as it glorifies the flawed humanity in the most simplistic and superlative symphonic music played by cinema .

USMAN LATIF KHAWAJA

At the throbbing screaming and moaning heart of this emotionally rivetting and traumatically tragic contemporary Iranian drama is'' anger'' in all its seething glory ; it consumes and devours human soul destroying the conscience temporarily ; everyone here is infuriated with their lies , and how they channel and fumigate the wrath forms this ferociously realistic debate about ego worship,moral quandries and social justice , yet it makes us feel an empathy for all these flawed characters that is the most preciptious miracle cinema has pulled in decades . Asghar Farhadi's fifth Iranian movie deals with themes of marital seperation as a wife challenges her 14 year old marriage on grounds her husband refuses to travel abroad with her, where there are more oppurtunities for her 10 year old daughter ,the husband deeply committed to caring for his alzheimer afflicted mentally disabled father refuses to leave Iran and thus the wife in chagrin moves to her parents home while the daughter decides to stay with the father . The couple employ a devout chador-clad women with a 5 year old daughter to care for the disabled father but she fails to inform them she is pregnant and working without the permission of her temperamental and unstable husband . Under her own physical stress the maid makes some almost fatal errors of negligence in her duty of care to the helpless demented man and a ferocious altercation arises between her and the son ending in an accident which leads to the most fascinating court room examination of personal dilemmas ,ethical responsibility and individual conscience in the most eventful manner that cinema can conjure . The characters are harrowingly acted by an impeccable cast ; all trying to safegaurd themselves and they make a simple tragedy into a disaster by hiding trivia thus making an incredibly sophisticated and intricately ingenious plot scripted with a genius which makes it entirely ''unpredictable '' ,but the script will not forego them or forfeit the truth as their conscience is at stake and the most sophisticated script cinema has written in ages comes to virtual reality in an informal ,non pretentious Iranian court-room as the two couples, now on opposite sides try to work out an arrangement to satisfy their injured egoes and obstinate human logic . The judicial system is the highlight here as the plaintiff and the defense both face the judge directly without lawyers and any formality ,they harangue, shout and exchange insults while the judge reprimands and rebukes firmly but patiently listens in the most impartial manner .The idea of law and justice is being challenged here as the subjects are in direct debate with the state without any intervening obstacle and this is enough to make this movie a milestone in cinema since the execution is supremely complex and the movie is shot with a gracefully gliding hand held camera with infinitely efficient editing in the most innovative style which makes it poignantly realistic . The confrontation leads to more complications and the script delves into the personal taboos of the characters to seek a redemption and in this case the ''final word'' lies with the word of a woman sworn on Koran ,where her conscience and guilt are here sole responsibility to her own spiritual absolution and the circle of morality and deception comes a full circle . The most powerful scene is thus executed in lingering anguish by the maid when her hotheaded husband insults the court and is ordered to be arrested ,as she pleads for his release and apologises for his wrath producing his anti- psychotic medication ,we see the man she has accused intervene on her behalf , and it is here that mister Farhadi has redeemed the human race of all its lies and misdemeanours as this is ''pure compassionate joy'' to behold on screen and this needs to be witnessed by one and all as it glorifies the flawed humanity in the most simplistic and superlative symphonic music played by cinema .

Armin

A sensitive look into human condition and morality which is brilliantly portrayed by by the cast and the director. A master piece.

Armin

A sensitive look into human condition and morality which is brilliantly portrayed by by the cast and the director. A master piece.

Peter Ludbrook

I found this to be one of the most gripping and moving films I've seen this year. Superbly directed and wonderfully acted and aided by an excellent script it is surely one the films of the year. A 5 star winner!

Peter Ludbrook

I found this to be one of the most gripping and moving films I've seen this year. Superbly directed and wonderfully acted and aided by an excellent script it is surely one the films of the year. A 5 star winner!

ReMo

This is a wonderful film. Great cinematography, excellent script and superb acting, not to mention the way it exposes the complexities of life stories. One can see why it won the golden bear award.

ReMo

This is a wonderful film. Great cinematography, excellent script and superb acting, not to mention the way it exposes the complexities of life stories. One can see why it won the golden bear award.

Phil Ince

A great film. Breathtaking sometimes. Extraordinary, rattling, unsafe, intense filmmaking. Brilliant and unpredictable as the greatest music.

Phil Ince

A great film. Breathtaking sometimes. Extraordinary, rattling, unsafe, intense filmmaking. Brilliant and unpredictable as the greatest music.

Al

From the first frame this film generates a narrative drive worthy of Kubrick or Hitchcock. What will happen next ? I couldn't guess. The moral labyrinths that appear and disappear,the false trails that pop up and unwind,the inventiveness and verve are breathtaking. I watched it at the Chelsea Cinema in the King's Road today Everyone in the cinema sat patiently through all the credits. And the credits were in the Persian language.

Al

From the first frame this film generates a narrative drive worthy of Kubrick or Hitchcock. What will happen next ? I couldn't guess. The moral labyrinths that appear and disappear,the false trails that pop up and unwind,the inventiveness and verve are breathtaking. I watched it at the Chelsea Cinema in the King's Road today Everyone in the cinema sat patiently through all the credits. And the credits were in the Persian language.