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Film review: A SEPARATION, from Built For Speed

A Separation, which won the Oscar for the best foreign language film, is a confronting Iranian domestic drama that immerses the audience in the everyday lives of a Tehran family while examining the way religion and sexual politics impact on them.

Having separated from his wife (Leila Hatami) after she tells him she wants to leave Iran, 30-something Nader (Paymen Moadi) hires a housekeeper (Sarah Bayet) to look after his Father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.  A confrontation between Nader and the housekeeper, however, results in a tragedy and bitter legal dispute.

Like last years’ criminally overlooked Australian drama Face to Face, A Separation is primarily about bitter conflict and the destructive impact of people’s refusal to bend to reason.  This film is at times moving, at others times infuriating as the combatants refuse to deal with the problem maturely.

The characters spend a lot of the film navigating complex legal bureaucracies and this could have been dull but due to the realistic, intelligent script and intense performances it’s an engrossing experience.

Appropriately, the film doesn’t attempt to offer easy or comfortable answers to the issues it confronts such as family breakdown, financial problems and dementia.

This film is not for all audiences but will prove rewarding for those seeking articulate drama rather than spectacle.  Definitely one of the year’s best so far.

Director: Asghar Farhadi

Running time: 123 mins

Released: 1st March 2012

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