January 23, 2012
"A Separation" is the foreign-language film of this year's awards season. After it won the Golden Globes last week, you know it is a cinch to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film and most probably win the coveted prize for its country of origin, Iran.
"A Separation" is about a middle-class Iranian family. In the first scene, husband and wife are divorcing after 14 years of marriage because of a disagreement on migration. Wife wants a better life abroad, while husband does not want to leave his Alzheimer-stricken dad. Caught in the middle is their 12-year old daughter. When wife leaves their home, the husband hires a poor woman to be his dad's caretaker while he is at work. From there, this harrowing family and societal drama evolves into situations you will not expect. The climax and the ending were so effectively executed. You will not want to leave even while the final credits are already rolling.
It appears that director Asghar Farhadi is really a big name in Iran, and that he already has previous acclaimed films. I will want to check them out. His control of his story and his actors (who you would not even remember are acting) is amazing. You get sucked into the story, and you will not want to let go until you get to the bottom of things at the final resolution. It has an underlying allusion to the conflict between the old and the new customs. It is an interesting peek into the family dynamics, religion and criminal justice system in Iran.
I have seen only one other nominee in the last Golden Globes list, "The Flowers of War." The scope and genre of the two films are vastly different and is hard to compare. But I could say that "A Separation" is the tighter and better-written film.