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FOREIGN FRIDAYS: ‘A Separation’ details strict expectations, norms in Iranian society

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(COURTESY/2011 - SONY PICTURES CLASSIC)

(COURTESY/2011 - SONY PICTURES CLASSIC)

(COURTESY/2011 - SONY PICTURES CLASSIC)

ADAM HAGEN

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A Separation sustains subtlety, from expert restraint, throughout its entire runtime. However, this subtlety speaks volumes about the societal norms and expectations of Iran.

The film focuses on the turbulent relationship of husband and wife Nader and Simin, brought to life by Leila Hatami and Peyman Moaadi, respectively. As the two go through their divorce, they face conflict when Nader commits a crime against their house maid, as well as his coping with his father suffering from Alzheimer.

Throughout the film there are moments that at first seem unnecessary but later become vital to the plot’s unfolding. The script’s small scale and efficient tendencies make everything in the film worthwhile.  

While watching A Separation, the aspect that I enjoyed most was its writing. As exemplified by the very first scene, none of the film’s writing is over saturated or overdone. A script like this allows A Separation create room for the actors to live in the body of their characters, instead of playing an overly stylized characters that only live within a two hour time window.

The cinematography of the film, while simple, is also beautiful. Its mellow, free-of-clutter framing compliments the story well and the script even more so. The theme of efficiency is maintained here, Making me ask: Why would a conversation ever be cut into tiny bits of fragmented dialogue when a straight shot of the speakers delivers a more powerful dynamic at twice the speed.  

The majority of A Separation takes place in the home of main character Nader. Immaculate set design within the house made me think of like rugs and jewelry not as Persian stereotypes, but realities. Being able to see Iran firsthand, through the lense of a Persian movie, was incredible. I’m no expert on the history of the country but after watching A Separation I felt informed, even if only partially, about the lives of people living in modern day Iran.

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