A Separation is an Iranian film which deals with the fallout of a married couple's difficult decision over whether they improve the life of their child by moving to another country or stay in Iran and care for a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimers.
A tragic event soon leads to the taut and utterly engaging A Separation bouncing between thriller and courtroom drama. The film, directed by Asghar Farhadi, is fascinating in that, while it deals with an world completely alien to most - Iranian family life, its religion and the chaos of its legal system - ultimately the themes at the heart of the tale are universal. There are so many questions asked, so many moral issues raised. When is it okay to lie? What constitutes sinning?
Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader and daughter Termeh. When Nadar refuses, she moves back to her parental home in protest. Nadar remains torn between loyalty to his Alzheimers-ridden father and trying to save his marriage, while Termeh just wants her parents to get back together. When Nadar hires a maid to look after his father, he introduces a whole new world of problems into his own and, as events spiral, the swim against the tide of turmoil that all the characters face is a futile one. Crucially, the lines between who the audience is supposed to sympathise with become increasingly blurred.
This tense, beautifully scripted and directed picture offers gritty, believable and exceptional performances across the entire cast. It will win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It deserves it.
POST OSCARS UPDATE: Told you so!
Review by Bobby Townsend