Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Separation

Iran sucks. Just thought I'd get that out of the way before looking at this (legitimately) acclaimed tale of a woman who separates from her husband because he won't leave the country with her. I thought at first this was going to be the woman's tale, following in the footsteps of other "Iranian women take it in the burka during the Islamic Revolution" genre, but it turns out that the 1979 look of thing hearkens back to Iran sucking.

Which is a shame. Iranians seem like good people. We should have helped them more.

In A Separation, Simin leaves her husband Nader to live with her parents for a while because he won't leave the country, but is also not forbidding her to leave—with their daughter Termeh opting to stay with her father. Nader's reluctance centers primarily around the care of his father with Alzheimer's, and when Simin leaves, he must hire a woman, Razieh to take care of him.

But, of course, the father is deteriorating, and Razieh, a devout Muslim, finds her in the position of having to clean the old man, which she considers inappropriate. She contrives a plan for Nader to contact her unemployed husband, Hodjat, through a mutual friend, so that he can take the job. (She can't tell her husband directly because she's been keeping the house of a non-related man.)

But Hodjat doesn't make it and Razieh comes back the next day, when bad things happen.

The subsequent story that unfolds is complex and rich, with each of the characters showing their strengths and weaknesses as they choose between what is easy, what is right, what is true, and what helps them survive.

This rightly has an Oscar screenplay nom, and some are saying it should be up for Best Picture (not just foreign language picture) which is also right—but in part because of the really weak field this year. The Boy pronounced it a "solid" flick but he felt it was over-hyped.

In that sense, it's much like The Artist: A solid movie of the kind Hollywood used to make, done with certain modern sensibilities—though perhaps ironically, The Artist is far more modern than this simple, yet subtle film.

Overall, though, this is a fine film of strong but flawed characters struggling to make it in an unforgiving world. The movie causes you to empathize with each character in turn and even share in their occasional moral indignation, only to reveal their own flaws, and humble the viewer.

Definitely a good film, worth seeing.

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