Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Watched tonight the powerful, troubling, heartbreaking Iranian movie A Separation (2011) directed by Asghar Farhadi. Peyman Moadi plays Nader, a good man and father, loving son and caretaker to his Alzheimer's stricken father, struggling with not only that burden but raising his eleven-year-old daughter as his wife Simin decides to file for a divorce in an attempt to pressure him to leave Iran (I think because she got a teaching opportunity overseas). Leila Hatami plays his wife. Sarina Farhadi does a nice job as the daughter. This is not a movie one can walk away from without jumbled emotions. It will make you angry, frustrated, heart-weary, and sad. Although advertised as a story of a conflict between separating husband and wife, it really is about lies, how they snowball and can cause a swath of pain. I must say that for the most part my sympathies lay with Nader, who is forced to hire a pregnant woman (played by Sareh Bayat) whose actions will cause chaos for two families and thrust them into the Iranian court system. Her husband is ably played by Shahab Hosseini. There are many social, cultural, legal and religious issues that bubble up throughout the story, not all of which I fully understood. What power do the women really have in Iran (although clearly much more than in many Islamic countries)? How do individuals tread the quivering highwire as they deal with honor, truth, family, responsibility, emotional pain, fear? Does the judicial system work fairly (and in this case I thought the portrayal was somewhat favorable to the judge in this instance)? What is the role of blood money, authority within a marriage, the crushing weight of unemployment and failure, the lure of better opportunity against the responsibilities of family and country, and many other issues. This movie has been widely acclaimed and honored, rightly so, but it is not an easy film to watch, but will reward the viewer if they take the chance.