Friday, February 3, 2012

A Separation (2011)

Directed by: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Peyman Maadi, Leila Hatami, Sarina Farhadi, Sareh Bayat

Nader (Maadi) and Simin (Hatami) are a middle class couple faced with a difficult decision. After waiting for months they are granted permit to leave the country. Simin wants to move from Iran so they can raise their 11 year old daughter, Termeh (Farhadi) in a safe place. Nader refuses to leave because of his ailing father, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.  Out of options, Simin files for a divorce. In a country where women have little or no custodial rights in a divorce, she won't move away without her daughter. With his wife moved out of the house, Nader hires a caretaker named Razieh (Bayat) to help care for his ill father. Nader suspects Razieh of abusing his father, and also accuses her of being a thief; violence then erupts between the two. The narrative then twists and turns through issues of morality, religion, gender, and socio/economic classes.

This film is an eye-opener into how the way things work in the Iranian legal system. The film shows that in Iran one can accuse another of a crime, sign a complaint with the court, then have that person prosecuted by a judge. No lawyer, no jury or trail...just one person's word against another, with the judge being the only one to decide the outcome. However, if one has the means, the accusing party can be paid-off  to make the whole case go away. This film also brings to light how religion plays a big part in how things are decided and played out in modern day Iran.

Powerful performances by the entire cast make this film a top Oscar contender for best foreign language film this year.

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