17 December 2011
A SEPARATION / JODAEIYE NADER AZ SIMIN (Dir. Asghar Farhadi, 2011, Iran)
Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian melodrama is currently appearing in many critics’ top ten lists. The set up is domestic and middle class; an Iranian couple are separating and their eleven-year-old daughter is caught in the middle. Simin (Leila Hatami) wants to go abroad with her daughter while Nader (Peyman Moaadi) is trying to come to terms with his father’s Alzheimer. When Nader employs a pregnant woman to look after his father, a moment of neglect results in a tragic situation for both parties. Although the subject of marriage provides the central narrative conflict, Farhadi takes his story into the realm of class politics and lifts the lid on the void between lower and middle class Iranians. I can see why the film appeals to so many western film critics because it deals with universal middle class anxieties including parental guilt, social apathy and perhaps most strikingly, marital discord. A Separation is an impressive work.