A Separation was definitely my favorite film of the entire festival and also instantly became one of my favorite films of all time. Michael Barker, from Sony Pictures Classic, introduced the film as “the perfect film” and it absolutely is. There is not a single scene that I would have removed and the actors were incredibly true to life. I had not seen it beforehand, but I will definitely be seeing it again.
On the surface, A Separation is a film about a couple going through a divorce. The film opens with Simin and Nader in front of a judge discussing why they should be allowed to get divorced. She wants to leave Iran, he needs to stay to take care of his ailing elderly father and is concerned about their preteen daughter’s education. Simin helps hire a caretaker for Nader’s father, and a series of events causes the woman to have a miscarriage, but she blames this on Nader (I don’t want to get into specifics about the events leading up to this, for spoiler reasons).
The best thing about A Separation is that it keeps us guessing. We do not know the full truth, we watch as it unravels. The relationships between characters are so incredibly heartfelt that even the most flawed characters, we are all flawed in some way, become personal. Incredible script, incredible performances and a fantastic ending, A Separation is simply amazing. Even in writing this I wish I could be watching it again right now.
For the Q&A session, Michael Barker came back out along with Paul Cox (On Borrowed Time) and one of Roger’s far flung correspondents, Omer Mozaffar. Omer spoke of some cultural significance and offered some insight into things that would go right over the heads of people not deeply familiar with Persian and Muslim customs. I truly hope that the home release has some special features detailing some of the things he spoke of, it was very enlightening. Paul Cox also had a terrific line that I’m going to paraphrase, “this entire film was shot on a budget that is definitely less than the cocaine budget on a Hollywood film”. He’s probably right, and that is a frightening thing to think about. If A Separation is what can come out of Iran, I need to see more.
I give it 5 out of 5.
Some interesting Ebertfest links:
Movie One Hundred Ninety Eight
After getting a chance to revisit A Separation on a small screen, the film was less of a surprise but had more of an impact. Let me explain. A Separation is a film that is crafted in such a way that the viewer does not know all the details of plot. Those details are carefully laid out as the film progresses and each seemingly minuscule detail forms a hugely moving setting for each of the characters in some way. While the details of the plot were not a surprise a second time through the film, seeing the way the film is crafted gives me a tremendous appreciation for A Separation. The editing and writing is done in such a precise fashion that it’s nothing short of remarkable that the film works at all, let alone works as well as it does. Details are implied, but not explained until later but this is not confusing, it’s revelatory.
If you haven’t seen A Separation yet, I really can’t say it enough – Go see this movie. It is a perfectly crafted film with the kinds of touching human relationships that Hollywood can’t seem to produce anymore.