It’s a bit slow on my cine-radar, but finding out that A Separation was still showing, it was mainly curiosity that made me watch the recipient of 2012’s Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.
A Separation follows Nadar and Simin, a middle-class couple who split and the struggle that follows when Nadar hires Raziah, a working class mother to take care of his elderly father.
When a misunderstanding comes about between Nadar and Raziah, the characters find themselves in an emotional and moral web with Simin acting as a go-between.
The film itself is quite simple, in the fact that the conflict between Nadar and Simin stems from the very unextraordinary; there is no falling-out-of-love, money problems or scandalous affairs. The separation is due to a simple difference of personal interests. The relationship between the couple is compelling to watch – it is not shrouded in emotions like most films nowadays. Instead, the pair are shown to devote themselves to their own lives rather than dwell on their timely separation; a practical and realistic outlook on what can be a traumatic and difficult experience.
Leila Hatami and Peyman Mooadi, who play Simin and Nadar respectively, play the couple with thought-provoking and mesmerising conviction. Their performances show a mutual emotional conflict (as to whether they need to be with each other) yet the struggles over everything else – from Nadar’s father to their indifferent daughter – seem to overshadow the situation.
The tone of the film changes when Razieh, who is a deeply religious and conflicted woman, is hired to take care of Nadar’s father. Her difficulties in doing the job pluck a heartstring as it takes a physical toll on her, which leads to a altercation between her and Nadar with intriguing consequences. The emotional struggles of the characters soon come out in reams with each one standing their ground – effectively making the film more than a typical domestic drama.
Director Farhadi doesn’t allow room for debate regarding his characters’ troubles. He allows everyday life to weave its supposedly mundane magic in between the gaps, resulting in a complex and essentially masterful drama. In its 123 minutes, there is little room for error in A Separation . Its moral and social conflicts draw focus on themes that filmmakers have a tendency to skim over but the X Factor in A Separation lies with its cast, bringing the extraordinary out of the seemingly ordinary.