An Iranian film winning an Academy Award? That might seem unlikely given the high tensions existing between our countries, but this excellent drama did take the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
The film, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, has nothing to do with politics or international intrigue. Rather, it’s an intimate story about the collision between two families, and how a seemingly minor dispute rises into a life-changing event for both clans.
Nader (Peyman Maadi) is young in age but old-fashioned in his traditional beliefs about family. He is dismayed that his wife Simin (Leila Hatami) wants to leave Iran, and is suing for divorce because of his refusal to leave. Their young daughter is caught in the middle.
Nader’s father is suffering from dementia and needs to be looked after constantly, so he hires a lower-caste woman, Razieh (Sareh Bayat). Her husband Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini) is unemployed and ill-tempered.
Razieh and Nader get into an argument, there’s some shoving, and the next thing Nader knows he’s under arrest and charged with a serious crime. The two families end up hashing out their differences in a tiny, sweaty courtroom.
A big movie about seemingly small things, “A Separation” is first-rate storytelling, from a culture that remains largely a mystery to most Americans.