This Iranian drama was made in 2009, prior to its writer-director Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning A Separation. As in that film, social strictures and tensions loom large in a narrative that defies easy prejudices during its early scenes of lively young Iranians leaving Tehran for a coastal holiday. Tagging along is Elly (Taraneh Alidoosti), a teacher whom one of the women, Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani), has invited in the hope that she’ll hit it off with divorced Ahmad (Shahab Hosseini).
If it all sounds too modern to be true, it is: Things go wrong when one of them has an accident and the group’s free-and-easy bubble is burst. The writing and direction lean toward the heavy-handed, but there’s much to chew on regarding tradition, progress and the power of the white lie. The film’s escalating energy, hysteria and moral confusion will invite comparisons to the hothouse drama of A Separation, if not quite eclipse it.