Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Day Trips: 10 ways to have fun outside near San Antonio

Day Trips: 10 ways to have fun outside near San Antonio

Outdoor Issue 2014: Who wouldn’t love to take a long trip to the Rocky Mountains or the Adirondacks, but let’s get real: not all of us have time (or the... By Mark Reagan 9/24/2014
Best Korean Restaurant

Best Korean Restaurant

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Music: Chris Pérez never saw it coming. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/28/2013
Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Screens & Tech

Critic's Pick: 'A Separation' wins Oscar for Best Foreign Film

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

As A Separation — this year’s Academy Award and Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Film—  begins, a middle-class husband and wife face the camera and plead their cases to an unseen magistrate. Simin (Hatami) seeks a divorce because her husband of 14 years, Nader (Maadi), refuses to emigrate with her and their 11-year-old daughter, Termeh. Nader insists on remaining in Iran to care for his father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Rejecting Simin’s request and advising her to accept her lot, the magistrate explains: “My finding is that your problem is a small problem.”

Nothing that is human is alien to cinematic art, and no problem is too small to escape the attention of Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. As Humphrey Bogart noted, the problems of three little people — in this case, Simin, Nader, and Termeh —  don't amount to a hill of beans, but when the beans are human beings, that hill becomes a mountain. A separation produces unexpected consequences. Leaving her husband — and Termeh — and moving in with her mother, Simin recommends hiring Razieh (Bayat) to care for Nader’s father while Nader is at work during the day. A devout Muslim whose pregnancy is not apparent beneath her chador, Razieh introduces further legal and ethical complications that ultimately lead us back to the cramped, drab quarters of a weary magistrate and the difficult quest to sift out the truth. Ambiguities over the miscarriage of a fetus compound the possibilities of a miscarriage of justice.

Various characters face charges of abuse, theft, and murder. But who among the witnesses is lying? Should a financial settlement spare the accused from prison? The film ends as it begins, with the viewer forced into the position of rendering judgment, in a case that grows more complex with each frame.

Long takes and restrained performances reinforce the sense that we are eavesdropping on a domestic ordeal, not watching a movie. Refusing to distract us from the immediacy of small problems on the big screen, A Separation is refreshingly free of anything but ambient sound. Like the Italian Neorealists, Iranian filmmakers tend to be virtuosos of budgetary and narrative economy. To avoid censorship and incarceration, they excel at nuance and indirection. Simin never explains exactly why she would want to leave the Islamic Republic of Iran, though the film is not likely to encourage tourism to Tehran, except to its movie theaters. Just before removing his father’s clothes, Nader closes the door in front of the camera, forcing us to respect his privacy. Without nudity, blasphemy, or calumny, Farhadi positions us within the dense, ambiguous textures of deceit that constitute these daily lives.

★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

A Separation

Writ. & dir. Asghar Farhadi; feat. Peyman Maadi, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, Shahab Hosseini (PG-13)

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus