Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. Iran/France, 2016. Arte France, Arte France Cinema, Doha Film Institute, Farhadi Film Production, Memento Films Distribution, Memento Films Production. Screenplay by Asghar Farhadi. Cinematography by Hossein Jafarian. Produced by Asghar Farhadi, Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Olivier Pere. Music by Sattar Oraki. Production Design by Keyvan Moghaddam. Costume Design by Sara Samiee. Film Editing by Hayedeh Safiyari. Academy Awards 2016. Cannes Film Festival Awards 2016. Golden Globe Awards 2016. Toronto International Film Festival Awards 2016.
The stunning opening sequence of this absorbing drama sets the tension right away as an apartment building is threatening to collapse and forces its tenants to evacuate immediately. A couple who are performing in a Farsi translation of Miller’s Death Of A Salesman at night while he supplements their income by teaching during the day have to find a new place to live, which they do thanks to a friend in their theatrical troupe. Not long after moving in, Rana lets a stranger into their new home by accident and is attacked, unable to remember who it was that injured her when recovering in the hospital. In trying to find the culprit, Emad becomes obsessed with getting justice for his wife, his motivation his love for her but, as the film progresses, appearing to also be rooted in the kind of masculine pride and frustration that he is dealing with on stage at night. The details pile up as the story proceeds, and so do the conflicts, until they reach the devastating conclusion that sees director Asghar Farhadi making the kind of ensemble magic that is a hallmark of his films. Character depth and compelling interactions worthy of the greatest theatrical works are combined with a cinematic sense of detail and intimacy for a film that is riveting from beginning to end, one that takes you to astounding places of sympathy. The performances are uniformly stunning, with Shahab Hosseini leading them beautifully in the complicated lead, while the stunning cinematography captures both the urban intensity of Tehran’s streets and the neon colours of its theatre world.