Another masterpiece from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, five years after his 2011 drama A Separation, won the oscar for best foreign film. The film, like most of Farhadi’s, is an exceptional character study of its main characters Emad and Rana, portrayed by Shahab Housseini and Taraneh Alidoosti respectively.
The film tells the story of Emad and Rana, a couple forced to leave their home due to its collapse. They find another place which they settle in happily, not knowing that the previous owner was actually a prostitute. An attack on Rana by one of the old tenant’s clients prompts Emad to take drastic decisions that might change the lives of both of them forever. All of these events take place while the couple are taking part in the production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.
The film, like all of Farhadi’s, is slow paced and focuses on the lives of the two leads. The cast’s performance is excellent. Rana’s anxiety after the attack is beautifully captured by Taraneh Alidoosti who displays the fragility of her character with delicacy that makes it even the more realistic. Emad’s character is portrayed by Shahab Housseini who maintains the role of the supporting yet frustrated husband, as he does not seem to know what to do to help his wife or at least to capture her attacker.
The main dilemma of the film comes down to its last third. We see recurring themes from Farhadi’s earlier work, as Emad struggles to understand whether what he is doing is right or wrong. His actions, being miscalculated and driven almost entirely by revenge, force his wife to take the position of both the victim and the judge.
It’s the human quality of Farhadi’s films that makes them as exceptional as they are. His gritty realism allows the audience to take part in the decision making of the story. This is a film that will linger with you for a while after you’ve left the theater. If you haven’t seen it yet, then what are you waiting for ?