A Separation (2011) – Ugly Truth, Sweet Lies

“A Separation” captures the jitters of anxiety and matters if both sides have the truth and lie they must protect. It’s about a struggle in a middle-class family in Iran. Asghar Farhadi pointed out this social class problem in “Fireworks Wednesday”. In “A Separation”, he explores it seriously but gloomy with a raw, natural, and genuine performance by all of the actors. He presented how the two economic classes are equally problematic. They reach an end of resolution where they also never find where the climax was.

This film tells the story of a married couple, Nader (Payman Maadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami), who are about to divorce. They both have different reasons. Simin wants to move abroad because she thinks the country they live in has many problems. She thought that it would be more suitable to raise their daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi), in another country. On the other side, Nader rejects it with the excuse of having to keep his father affected by Alzheimer’s. In the middle of their relationship, Simin stayed at her mother’s house, making Nader frantically taking care of the house, Termeh, and his father. Because of that, he needed a housemaid. He invited Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to become the housemaid.

Razieh is a religious person. However, she also sometimes asked to stop because she was unable to take care of Nader’s father. For her, all of which is inappropriate. She sought a solution by offering her long-unemployed husband, Hojjat (Shahab Hosseini), to work in the place. The husband, unfortunately, didn’t come to the house because he was imprisoned. Razieh also had to endure a few more moments. Problems began to arise when Razieh left Nader’s father in the condition of his hands tied to the bed. Nader comes home to see his father slumped on the floor, furious, and expels Razieh for alleged theft. The debate began and Nader suddenly pushed her outside the house.

Asghar Farhadi, the writer-director, explored these characters’ study alternately on both sides. The key to this movie is to find which one deserves empathy. We understand why they have something they deserve to protect. They also don’t realize that something they were protecting was inappropriate. Both sides have something truthful but they only protect lies they cannot reveal. Farhadi put both of them without having to think who was wrong or right. Instead, he put us right in the middle of their conflict and problem. He made us part of one of the victims.

Nader and Simin have their respective intellectuals and finances. However, this divorce made one of their daughters also suffer. It’s just that the two of them never noticed. For Simin and Nader, the decision to divorce is easy to get out. But, they just never realize, understand, and see how this situation can change an existential person. Like the daughter, Termeh, who, in the end, inevitably has to choose with whom to live. Yet, choosing both parents means supporting the truth and lies of one of them also unconsciously.

Farhadi puts Razieh and Hojjat as a general description of how the economy is the problem area. Razieh is just obedient to religion. On the other hand, Hojjat the unemployed is always rude. Entwined with debt, to help finance, Razieh must work to fulfill their lives. The victims are children and parents in this film. The movie puts children in a closed room. In essence, parents don’t give them room in family matters. Just because you close the door and “lock-in” your kids in another room doesn’t mean they will forget the problem.

And well, it works well in this movie but we don’t need to see whether the victim is also certainly wrong or we are just the audience who can’t do anything. Termeh understands her parents and of course, she loves them both. However, Termeh also took steps that she thought were appropriate by not joining with her mother so that her mother could still change her mind. Likewise with Somayeh (Kimia Hosseini), Razieh’s five-year-old son, who likes to draw illustrations of her father and mother who often quarrel. They both have problems and connections with each other but they both know where they are.

This is a convincing and breathtaking movie and to say this movie came from Iran, it amazes me. To be honest, “A Separation” is the first Iranian film I watched and this is also my first time watching a film from Asghar Farhadi. He is well-known for his Oscars recognition and many of his films also get Oscars like this one. Farhadi put all of his actors naturally so we seemed to see an event in real-time. You don’t see a movie; you see a real-life tragedy put on a movie. And this is how movies aren’t just entertainment.

In “A Separation”, Asghar slaps us on the obvious fact that problems don’t only arise because of unwillingness. But, it also arises in our inability to choose the right choice. This movie doesn’t only show a real portrait of social life in Iran. Indeed, you never know that Iran is always known for its representation in American films. Still, I can’t believe there Aare films like this. It deals with the pain of reality, human feelings, and law. Sometimes, it’s about religion and punishment at the same time.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

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