Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Movies: A Separation

If I ever had to teach a course on Comparative Law, I'd probably show "A Separation" during the first week of class:

"A Separation" is a fascinating look inside Iran's society and legal system (particularly the concepts of qesas and diyya). The title references Nader and Simin, a married couple who are dealing with a thorny problem - Simin wants to leave Iran to improve the future of their daughter Termeh, while Nader wants to stay in the country to care for his Alzheimer-afflicted father. When Nader hires a poor, devout woman to help him look after his father, things rapidly get out of hand.

While there's plenty of conflict in "A Separation," it doesn't involve gunfights, car chases, or explosions. Instead, the movie thoughtfully depicts the everyday clashes we all face: rich vs. poor, husband vs. wife, child vs. parent. Director Asghar Farhadi has made "A Separation" restrained and subtle; the characters' arguments are heated but never stupid, the issues are wrenching but never maudlin.

"A Separation" is rounded out by some superb performances - the young actresses who play the daughters in this movie, Sarina Farhadi and Kimia Hosseini, throw in absolutely heartbreaking performances, and steal plenty of scenes from the adults. The only bad thing about the movie is the gimmick ending; I found it jarring considering the lack of artifice or stylistic touches in the rest of the story, and that dissonance almost ruins the themes and messages transmitted in the first two hours of the movie. That being said, "A Separation" is a good movie and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 8/10


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