A Separation (2011)


Jodaeiye Nader az Simin

Iran; Asghar Farhadi


All Audiences




Present-day Iran. A couple on the brink of dissolution, Nader (Payman Maadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami), faces the hardships of life as they struggle to start over again without each other, but both find themselves pulled back towards their shares past by their 11-year-old daughter. Nader has to nurse his old, senile and terminally ill father, and he hires a young woman to assist and replace him while he is at work. But he doesn’t know that the woman is pregnant and she accepted the job without her husband’s – a radical, emotionally instable Islamist – knowledge. She is herself troubled and often sick, and one day commits a grave mistake, causing Nader to fly into a rage. In parallel, Simin considers leaving the country and discovering new horizons.


All characters are finely drawn, and one can’t fail to admit their decency, basic humanity but also their terrible mistakes. They evolve in an envelope of reality, in a universe that feels tangible and credible to the core. The director’s humanistic worldview is evident when he finds time to spare a moment of sympathy for episodic, unnamed characters. A simple, yet effective and devastating exploration of the dynamics of a dissolving couple, A Separation was released to thunderous critical acclaim worldwide, reaping The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language, The Golden Globe and The Golden Berlin Bear. Following the release of About Elly (actually made prior to A Separation) and The Past, Farhadi may now appear as a fresh, leading figure of the arthouse ghetto, but his best known achievement masterfully blends the cerebral and analytical with a more accessible, character-driven approach, which balances the stark austerity of the ensemble. Keeping political commentary as subtext, the director conducts the film with brilliance, never missing a beat, ingraining deep into the texture of its film new shades of meaning, which surface gradually as its remarkably simple plot unfolds. At last but not least, it presents a country not quite at peace with itself, but, contrary to common western belief, definitively alive, constantly in ebullition, driven by the same appetite for happiness and love. It’s undoubtedly a refreshing approach.


A simple, compelling endeavor, A Separation is nothing short of gripping, but also hugely emotionally rewarding. Despite being masterly directed, scripted and acted, there is a certain unsophistication about it that reinforces the conviction that new blood has been transfused into international cinema with this unexpected, but wholly welcome, new graduate from Iran.



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