“A Separation” won an Oscar for Best Picture in a Foreign
Language in February. Director Asghar Farhadi has the district honor of being the first Iranian
filmmaker to ever receive an Oscar.
In modern day Tehran, the capitol if Iran, Nadir and Simin
are in court to make Simin’s request for a separation and divorce final (for a
complete listing of the cast please see the Internet Movie Database http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1832382). The judge is patient and asks easy questions
but it is obvious that the couple loves each other and is reluctant to move
Simin explains that they filed for an exit visa years before and when it finally
came they had more than 100 days to act on it; but time is running out. Simin
says there is no future for them in Iran and the judge becomes a little
hostile. Nadir explains that he cannot leave because his father has Alzhiemer’s
and needs his son to care for him. Simin and Nadir have an eleven year-old
daughter as well. So either Simin will have to leave the country on her own,
hopefully with her daughter, Termeh, or the whole family stays.
The judge decides there is not enough cause for a divorce.
When they arrive home Simin packs her bag and leaves. While it seems like she
is leaving for good, she moves back into her parents’ home. Termeh stays with
her father and grandfather.
Simin, however, through a friend, finds a woman, Raziah, to
care for the elderly man. Raziah is very observant but she has not told her
husband she is working for one man and caring for another all day. She
vacillates between coming to work and letting her husband have the job. When
the old man soils himself she calls a religious information line to ask is she is permitted by law to change
him; she is given the go-ahead.
Nadir meets Raziah’s husband and he seems nice enough and
eager. But things get complicated when he does not show up for work. Raziah
comes again with her little daughter. When she is not looking the old man slips
out to buy a paper. Raziah is terrified and runs to find him.
Nadir comes home early one day to find his father tied to
the bed but unconscious on the floor. Raziah is nowhere to be found. When she
appears Nadir’s anger overcomes him; he accuses her of stealing cash that he
has on hand and then he pushes her out of the apartment and closes the door.
The situation becomes very complicated by this,
relationships and friendships broken forever by lies. When the characters start
to parcel out blame, beginning with Termeh, it is laid at Simin’s feet because
none of this would have happened if she did not want to leave Iran.
The is a movie about not only a separation between man and
wife, but between parent and child, between a family and their country, middle
class and poor, and a separation blocking communication and understanding on
many levels. Raziah’s extreme fear of making a religious mistake is palpable
thus there exists a profound separation, a lack of integration, between a faith
lived for love and being observant out of fear. The visuals, doors, windows,
partitions are seamlessly included to reinforce the real partitions and to
symbolize ones we cannot see.
The obvious conclusion that the theocratic government of
Iran is ultimately to blame for the chaos that develops in this finely crafted
and deeply felt film. The film is an analogy for Iran and other totalitarian
governments and the story highlights the cracks that such a government creates
in a society and culture.
How does it end? Do take the time to see it if it is playing
in your area or rent it on DVD when it becomes available. This is a movie with
a lot of dialogue but not a word is superfluous.
What would you have done if you were Namir and
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