About Elly (2009) – The Mysterious Disappearance of…

Written by Asghar Farhadi or well-known for his famous work called “A Separation“, “About Elly” is a thought-provoking drama like “A Separation”. Both films emphasize a complex question full of ambiguity between right and wrong. In a problem the characters face, of course, there is no answer to such things. This movie has a composition similar to foreign or non-English language films. However, Farhadi’s interest in highlighting the lives of the middle-class in Iran is his most favorite thing in this world.

The story centers on a friendly family. They spent three days vacationing in the Caspian Sea. There are Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani), her husband, Amir (Mani Haghighi), and her daughter. Sepideh is a person who has this holiday idea. There is Peyman (Payman Maadi) and his wife, Shohreh (Merila Zare’i), and their two children. And also there is Manoochehr (Ahmad Mehranfar) and his wife, Nazzi (Ra’na Azadivar). In the event, Sepideh wants to introduce her kid’s teacher, Elly (Taraneh Alidoosti) to her friend who was just divorced, Ahmad (Shahab Hosseini). Sepideh only hopes that the two can get to know each other well and can be paired.

“About Elly” itself is like “A Separation”. It starts with the characters’ development and their life. The first introduction of the first act is also very long, about 40 minutes. When the movie starts to introduce the second act, it feels like you are watching a different movie. The film itself in the first half-hour still has not revealed the identity and the main conflict. Slowly, the film suddenly leaves a mystery behind everything. The mystery appears in the character Elly and her life.

Elly is a young girl, beautiful, friendly, cheerful, and others. She always shows an expression full of emptiness, as if there is a secret she was hiding. Her eyes and her blank expression were part of the mystery. It’s also hard when she doesn’t seem to have an interest in Ahmad and vice versa. The conflict began when Elly disappeared without a trace as if there had never been in the first place. At first, the son of Peyman was found drowning in the sea. Even though he survived, Elly, who was with him at the last moment, suddenly disappeared.

A common question culminates in Elly’s situation. They assume that Elly drowned while trying to save the kid. Eyewitness accounts of children also raise many doubts. In essence, Elly’s departure eventually led to a variety of assumptions. Problems escalated when family members questioned Elly’s identity. They also questioned Sepideh’s authority in inviting and making this holiday. Debates occur, some are right, some are wrong, and none of this is inevitable.

“About Elly” is not trying to find the right or wrong answer in this situation. Instead, it’s focused on the truth about Elly’s existence. Both “A Separation” and “About Elly” have the key to these conflicts. It’s a big role in how one problem can spread into new and rooted problems. Asghar Farhadi, through the script he wrote, tried to lift the human ego. It’s about these characters when the ego has mastered them completely. They seek justification and defense of themselves. They will even look for a scapegoat too.

A lot of people find it hard to get the first act. They find it pointless as well. One way how you can care about the movie you watch is how you present and introduce these characters. At first, you see them having fun, playing around, joking with each other, playing a game, and so on. However, when one problem began to emerge, their relationship began to escalate because of just which. For me, the more layers the director wants to tell you, the more you care about the movie and these characters. The starting point is beat and gambling. You have to put a strong yet attractive premise so that people didn’t come out and stop in the middle of the journey. This is one of the great examples of those movies.

In most of Farhadi’s works, there is a space on all of the characters. Literally and context, it works. It’s not a shot like most cinematic movie works. But, apart from this is also a socio-criticism, it involves a personal reflection. There is a symbolic potential in most of the scenes. It shot in a documentary-like also uses a hand-held camera. For instance, when the characters just got panic when they learned about Elly’s condition, all of the characters and the image ran to find the title card. It makes it seem noticeable when a glimpse of the sea and the beach is seen from the window, from the house together with the characters in the house.

This movie has an incredible lineup of casts. It’s natural and realistic as if everything is not a movie. It feels like they are executing a scene after scene and conversation after conversation without a script. With dynamic directions from Asghar Farhadi and the framing by Hossein Jafarian, I can say I prefer this movie to “A Separation”. I love both of the movies but there is a uniqueness of my own I witnessed from the director as well as a filmmaker. “About Elly” is a work by a masterful director.

5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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