123 minutes| Iran| 2011| Subtitled| Colour| D-Cinema


The Golden Bear winner at the Berlin Film Festival, A Separation is Iranian cinema as never seen before – a portrait of marital disintegration in which sympathy for both sides proves utterly compelling, not least when agonising circumstances lead to tragedy. While the legal processes and spiritual guidance which shape the fortunes of husband Nader (Peyman Moadi) and spouse Simin (Leila Hatami) obviously come from a different tradition, these are people we recognise: she wants to live abroad, he needs to look after his senile father, and their daughter’s caught in the middle. Enter new home help Razieh (Sareh Bayat), who brings her own issues – poverty, pregnancy, and a volatile husband. The ingenuity with which director Asghar Farhadi’s film piles complication upon complication is worthy of any Hollywood melodrama, yet the story never feels forced. Instead, it’s a provocative, wrenching account of what can happen when people get the law and religion to make decisions they need to make for themselves. It’s a truly humane, totally riveting film. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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