About Elly, Iranian director Asgher Farhadi’s fourth feature, is a tightly-knit, intense drama about a sunny story gone tragic. Winner of the Best Director award at the Berlinale this year, the film has two distinct moods: light-hearted and good-humoured for the first 45 minutes, sombre and tense for the rest.
Three young couples, a handful of children, Elly (the nursery school teacher of one of the kids) and Ahmad (a young friend returned from Germany following an unhappy marriage and a divorce from his German wife and vacationing in Iran for ten days) take a holiday on the Caspian Sea. They are carefree, raucous, determined to live it up. But one of the women – Sepideh – has a hidden agenda, an inoffensive one on the face of it: she wants to bring pretty Elly and Ahmad together. Continue reading
An Iranian man deserts his French wife and two children to return to his homeland. Meanwhile, his wife starts up a new relationship, a reality her husband confronts upon his wife’s request for a divorce. Continue reading
THE GUARDIAN review (contains plot details):
An unhappily married couple break up in this complex, painful, fascinating Iranian drama by writer-director Asghar Farhadi, with explosive results that expose a network of personal and social faultlines. A Separation is a portrait of a fractured relationship and an examination of theocracy, domestic rule and the politics of sex and class – and it reveals a terrible, pervasive sadness that seems to well up through the asphalt and the brickwork. In its depiction of national alienation in Iran, it’s comparable to the work of Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof. But there is a distinct western strand. The film shows a middle-class household under siege from an angry outsider; there are semi-unsolved mysteries, angry confrontations and family burdens: an ageing parent and two children from warring camps appearing to make friends. All these things surely show the influence of Michael Haneke’s 2005 film Hidden. Farhadi, like Haneke, takes a scalpel to his bourgeois homeland. Continue reading