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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'A Separation': A Profound and Utterly Arresting Domestic/Legal Drama From Iran

Movie poster for the Iranian film A Separation starring Payman Maadi and Shahab Hosseini

“A Separation” (“Jodaeiye Nader az Simin”) is a highly engrossing drama set in modern-day (2011) Iran, involving the separation of a young couple and the surprising fallout that befalls them as they attempt to manage their estrangement.

With their family in a state of abject disrepair, Nader (Payman Maadi) is forced to hire a caregiver named Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to care for his elderly and ailing father. Deeply religious and struggling to manage her own marriage to the volatile Hojjat (Shahab Hosseini), Razieh must keep her employment a secret in order to avoid her husband’s fury over his wife’s employment without his consent, according to tradition.

Razieh, however, struggles to care for Nader's increasingly demanding father, going so far as to tie him to a bed when she is forced to see a doctor after discovering that she is pregnant. Infuriated by her perceived neglect, Razieh throws Razieh from his home—shoving her violently in the process and causing her to suffer a miscarriage. This devastating development serves as the provocation for a lengthy and dramatic court case, with Razieh facing criminal murder charges over the death of Razieh’s unborn child.

Written, produced and directed by Asghar Farhadi (“About Elly”, “Everybody Knows”), “A Separation” serves as an exceptionally involving domestic and legal drama, delivering an honest and intelligent examination of culture, religion, honesty and integrity. The film is so starkly realistic that you may forget that you aren’t watching a real-life enactment—a testimony to Farhadi’s superb direction and the profoundly true-to-life performances from the entire cast. It’s a remarkable cinematic achievement and one of the very best international films of the entire decade.


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