One of the most talk about Asian film of last year that created ripples all around the globe winning many prestigious awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actors in more than one Festivals and going to compete in upcoming Golden Globe and Oscar this season. Well, the film deserves all that for more than one reason. First it comes from politically-culturally oppressive and socially repressive country where making cinema with individual artistic freedom means full stop to your personal and professional career. Some of the most humanitarian filmmakers of current world cinema have to bear the ire of Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance for bringing output of their independent voices. Finest directors like Jafar Panahi and Mohsen Makhmalbaf faced imprisonment and exile for making films; so and so even director of this film Asghar Farhadi was banned from making this film. Though he managed to make such a refined film with his all saved money of his earlier successful film and with financial support of APSA, a cultural promotional initiative to support cinema of Asia-Pacific.
Sorry for being carried away by history but I feel that it’s crucial to point out how amid all such religious-cultural-moral Gestapo of the country, the individual artistic voices of cinema keep making finest humanitarian documents. As the film opens, we notice an urban middle class couple’s reaction while arguing and unwillingly signing the legal papers of separation. The reason for separation is explained too and it seems quite surprising but not improbable. We come to know from their arguments that both of them earlier decided moving to another country for better education of their only daughter and now when they got the Visa that going to expire within forty days, the husband refused to move as there’s no one to look after his old father’s deteriorating condition under Alzheimers disease. The wife is adamant to go even though the daughter and his father want to stay with the old man. As wife packs her bags leaving the home to move her maternal home, the husband has to take the responsibility of eleven year old daughter and the suffering father. For daily house chores and to look after his father the husband hires a young lady at home under his absence. Managing the old man suffering from dementia is damn difficult task for that hired lady under her pregnant condition and her kid daughter. An unwanted accident occurs that spurs the moments to multiply more. What happens next is drama interwoven with hide and seek of truth and lie that puts almost all of the characters in volatile emotions and morality.
The film is so simple and sublime and yet so complex and introspective meddling with subject of mutual relationship like marriage in its beginning followed by engrossing drama between characters. It shares human expressions and reactions to certain subtle and unwanted situations and captures the simple story in its entire complexity of cultural and religious milieu. Though I feel certain emotional manipulation in the middle where director boiled up conflict through much repetition of confrontational drama between two husbands engaging audience from the cause and than revealing the secret fact as surprise near climax. The open ending of the film is again scores on emotional hypothesis of the unwanted aftermath.
I wonder how so naturally the Iranian actors performed! Whether the husband, wife, daughter, the hired lady and her husband or small kid…each and every character immaterial of small or lead role exude natural and realistic expressions and resonance without being dramatically loud or over the top. And no cinema of the world challenge the way Iranian filmmakers use children in their story, point of view and characterization. Child actors seem so mature and adult while adults behave like children! Worth to mention the beautiful camera work and fine editing adding more feel and touch to the film like this.
Surely one of the best of last year.