The 2011 Oscar winner for best foreign film, A Separation opens with a couple requesting a divorce. Simin (Leila Hatami) is leaving Iran as planned. Nader’s (Payman Maadi) father has Alzheimer's and he won’t leave him behind. We don’t get details about their lives before they could look at one another without contempt and communicate without screaming, but we get idea it was a decent marriage. Now, their issue is what to do about Termeh (Sarina Farhadi), their eleven-year-old daughter? Does she go with her mother or stay in Iran with her father? The judge orders Termeh to decide.
Each character has his/her quandaries. Nader’s father doesn’t speak, but the drama surrounds him. Razieh is conflicted, burdened and trying to do the right thing but knowing what that is becomes extremely hard. Termeh is often the adult, holding her parents to the moral code with which she’s been raised.
A Separation takes on perspective, desperation and tradition. The cultural differences, especially around legal matters and customs, are fascinating. Judges are in the vein of Judge Judy, prisoners are handcuffed to easygoing guards and the legal system operates with loose norms related to evidence collection and witness testimony.
This movie is not filmed in the omniscient point of view where we know what all the characters feel/do/expect. It pits perspective against honesty and asks tough questions. You will interpret the situation and nothing that happens is predictable. In the end, I re-watched nearly the whole movie again to try and get those missing bits. You are left contemplating a lot. Impressive. See it.
Writer/Director: Asghar Farhadi
Run time: 123 minutes