Sunday, March 25, 2012

"A Separation": Family Conflicts And Shifting Truths

Directed by Iranian filmmaker Ashgar Farhadi, "A Separation" (2012 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film) is a tightly constructed depiction of family and class tensions and shifting truths. The film opens as Nader (Peyman Moadi) and his wife Simin (Leila Hatami) argue in family court over Nader's refusal to either divorce Simin or leave the country with her and their 11-year-old daughter, Termeh (Sarina Fahadi, the director's daughter). Nader won't abandon his father, who has Alzheimer's; Simin contends that she wants a better life for their child abroad and that the father no longer knows who his son is. With the conflict unresolved, Simin leaves to live with her mother while Nader hires a poorer, more religious, woman, Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to care for his father. Eventually, conflict breaks out between employer and employee that leads them to court and mutual accusations. Razieh's husband, Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), unemployed and deeply in debt, takes out his sense of disenfranchisement on the middle-class Nader and Simin. All parties to the conflict maintain their incomplete versions of events, though we gradually gain a more complete perspective. The main victim is young Termeh, who senses the lies in the adults around her and is forced into decisions no child should be expected to make. She emerges as the most sympathetic character in this compelling film.

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