Separation. Divorce. Both of these are becoming increasingly commonplace in societies and cultures all over the world. Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi tackles this matter with fierce intimacy in his 2011 award-winning film A Separation.
From the opening scene, Farhadi sets the tone for the film by placing the two middle-aged lead characters Nader and Simin (a married couple of 14 years) directly in front of the camera. The unhappily married couple discusses issues with their marriage in front of the off-screen family court judge, in which the two are actually looking directly at the camera lens, thus breaking the fourth wall, albeit somewhat indirectly.
Farhadi makes the viewer feel as though they are a part of Nader and Simin’s meeting, immediately creating a sense of inclusion with the audience.
Simin is a caring and concerned mother who wants to leave Iran and move somewhere safer that provides a healthier environment for their 11 year-old daughter, Termeh, to grow up in.
Meanwhile father/husband Nader believes Iran is a perfectly adequate country to inhabit and wishes to stay, partially so he can look after his father who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease but also because he sees nothing wrong with Iran.
The story continues forward as both Nader and Simin live their lives (mostly) separate from one another. Termeh is the only connecting force between these two ex-lovers and accompanies them through their journey of separation. Things become rocky for the family when Nader hires a caretaker to look after his father while Nader works during the day. With his intricately plotted story, director Farhadi takes his viewers for an emotionally exhausting ride through the mishaps and adversity that one family experiences during a separation.
A Separation is not a censored or cleaned up version of what Western audiences have come to expect from break-up narrative films.
Farhadi has conceived a film that dives deep into the human cesspool of emotion and includes just the right amount of character study, creating an experience that flows seamlessly from one scene to the next. There are moments that portray raw emotion and reactions from characters that are believable and relatable to actual human experience.
Unfiltered through any sort of censorial lens yet by no means a graphic film, A Separation demonstrates genuine human responses to situations, something that modern Hollywood cinema tends to shy away from. Filled with both flawed choices and noble decisions, the characters (and actors of course) bring to light what tends to happen in our darkest and most private moments.
A Separation may not be the most uplifting or optimistic film created, but its sense of realism and accuracy to real life is surely one that both casual movie-goers and cinephiles will appreciate.
Join Trent Film Society for a FREE screening of this movie on Sept. 11 at 8pm in Artspace (378 Aylmer Street).