Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Short Independent Film Review: A Separation (2011), جدایی نادر از سیمین, by Payman Akhlaghi

A Separation (جدایی نادر از سیمین، 2011, ca 123 mins, Persian)
Written & Directed by Asghar Farhadi
With Leila Hatami & Peyman Ma'adi.
End title music: Sattar Oraki
Reviewed by Payman Akhlaghi

By now, this has been a much reviewed and well received film. It's an artfilm without the pretense, a commercially successful neo-realistic work coming from Iran, with true roots in, and a genuine understanding of, its modern culture at large. It's full of sentiments, yet decidedly not sentimental. The script flows like a quiet and unceasing brook, with a dramatic curve that almost never loses its momentum. Notwithstanding the excellent work of the adult performers, the epilogue leaves you with one of the most moving cinematic moments ever solicited from a child actor. Patient, heartfelt, confident, the film captures the humanity of its characters at every turn, with a fitting camera work and an equally integrated editing style. If nominated, it could very well garner the first Oscar for an Iranian film. I'm pleased that this moving picture was the first Iranian film I saw in a relatively long time. This review first appeared on Payman's Facebook Page.

I find it noteworthy that Simin, the protagonist of "A Separation", when leaving her husband and daughter behind, doesn't ask for anything to take with her -- no shoes, no jewelry, no books, no tv's -- except for one thing: a CD of [Mohammad Reza] Shajarian's music. This is a significant homage paid by the younger generation of Iranian artists to this acknowledged master of Persian traditional music. Here's a sample of Mr. Shajarian's work.

Cast includes Leila Hatami, Peyman Ma'adi, Sareh Bayat, Sarnia Farhadi (Termeh), A.A. Shahbazi, S. Hosseini, Merila Zare'i, et al. Full cast and crew can be found at IMDB.

(*) Update: "...I think they are a truly peace-loving people." -- Asghar Farhadi, director of A Separation, speaking of Iranians, as he received the Golden Globe 2012 for Best Foreign Language Film, Sunday Jaunary 15th, 2012. The film was up against 4 other films, including the much discussed, impressive Almodovar masterpiece, The Skin I Live In. This was a tough contest, and the film earned the Globe with every breath, with every frame. Oscars could well be within its reach. Congratulations to the team & to the artistic community of Iran at large. - P.A.

(*) Update: On February the 26th, A Separation was awarded an Oscar for The Best Foreign Film.

© 2011, 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

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