Jodaeiye Nader az Simin [A Separation] (2011)

(Netflix Streaming, October 2016) Straight-up domestic drama really isn’t my cup of cinematic tea, but there is something compelling about A Separation’s down-to-earth plot, with its ordinary characters going through a crisis with no real right or wrong side. A chronicle of a few tumultuous weeks in the life of a modern Iranian family, A Separation is also a peek inside a society that is usually willfully misunderstood in (North) America—Iran as it exists today, with its own justice system, social taboos, modern problems and human emotions. The plot has to do with a separation between spouses, an ailing father, an abusive husband, a bullied girl, a miscarriage and plenty of misunderstandings, but it’s also about ordinary life in a country perhaps not too dissimilar when it comes to its ordinary people. While the film requires a bit of an investment (it’s more than two hours long, and it does take a while to become truly engaging), it does provide return on that investment. Some skillful direction by Asghar Farhadi helps clarify what could have been challenging to understand for non-Iranian viewers. It’s quite an experience, even if you’re not the kind of person who usually goes for those films.

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