Simin: Does he even realize you are his son?
Nader: I know he is my father!
Another recent foreign language film steps up into the ranks, this time the story of an Iranian man whose wife has decided she wants to leave the country, leaving him with the difficult decision of whether to abandon his father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Iranian film before. The closest I’ve probably ever come is playing ‘Prince of Persia’ back in the glorious 1990s. And, I think we can all agree, that is not very close.
But, you know what? I’m not surprised, and I’ll tell you why.
‘A Separation’ was the first Iranian film to win a Golden Globe (Best Foreign Language Film, 2012), the first to be nominated for a BAFTA (Film Not in the English Language, 2012), and the first to win an Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film 2012). Seemingly, it is the first Iranian film to receive any real international acclaim at all, so it is unsurprising that it’s the first I’ve seen.
After watching it, however, I’m not sure that it deserves all the praise.
It is a fine film with a fine script. I think the real beauty of this film is the breaking down of gender stereotypes (specifically, Middle Eastern gender stereotypes). In this film we see Simin as the somewhat cold and seemingly self-centred mother, while Nader takes on the nurturing role to care for both his ageing father and young daughter.
Razzieh and Hojjat, on the other hand, live up to the stereotypes perfectly. Razzieh shuffles off dutifully to earn money for the family with (super cute) daughter in tow, while her hot-headed husband flies off the handle at every opportunity, giving cause to the assumption that perhaps he beats her behind closed doors (although that assumption is later put to bed in an interesting turn of events).
The film was an interesting insight into a country culture that has received much press in the Western World in recent years, and a fantastic opportunity to a different day-to-day life point of view that, for once, has nothing to do with the United States or war.
I suppose this is what made this film so popular.
Nevertheless, despite an interesting and unique plot and the opportunity to gain a different insight into a much maligned culture, I did not rate this film so highly as my professional counterparts. The pace was slow and many of the characters felt under-developed. With a small budget (filmed mostly on handheld camera) it is hard to compete with million dollar epics, but even had this not been the case, I would still have felt as though much more could have been done with the story.
I give it 5 pumpkins.
You, of course, have the choice of taking my word for it… or trusting the collective judges of the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Oscars. Which horse will you back?
Have you seen ‘A Separation’? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.