Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
Original title: Jodaeiye Nader Az Simin
Iran, 2011. Asghar Farhadi Productions, Dreamlab Films, MPA APSA Academy Film Fund. Screenplay by Asghar Farhadi. Cinematography by Mahmoud Kalari. Produced by Asghar Farhadi. Music by Sattar Oraki. Production Design by Keyvan Moghaddam. Film Editing by Hayedeh Safiyari.
A Tehran couple open this riveting film in a courtroom as they look to obtain a divorce; she wants to take their daughter abroad to study and have the chance at a better life, while he wants to stay behind and take care of his father who is dying of Alzheimer’s. When their impasse results in Simin (Leila Hatami) going to live with her parents, Nader (Peyman Moaadi) hires Razieh (Sareh Bayat) as his housekeeper to clean their home and keep his father from leaving the house during the hours while he is at work and his daughter is at school.
Razieh is a religiously devout woman with little experience in taking care of seniors with dementia, and when her own personal conflicts flare up and cause problems, it inspires a crisis that sees the lot of them fighting it out in the courts and sees Nader accused of murder. This is about as perfect as films ever get, the absolute best-acted, directed and scripted film of its year, graced with a group of performances that achieve a level of realism that is rarely so effective and direction that is incredibly smooth from beginning to end. Added to the three characters above are Shahab Hosseini as Razieh’s husband, whose shame at being unemployed combines with his religious conservatism to make him very hot-tempered, as well as director Asghar Farhadi’s daughter Sarina as the child whose loyalties when tested make for the film’s most heartbreaking moments.
Academy Award: Best Foreign Language Film
Nomination: Best Original Screenplay
Berlin Film Festival Awards: Golden Bear; Best Performance (The Ensemble Cast)
Golden Globe Award: Best Foreign Language Film
Toronto International Film Festival: 2011