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Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Separation Is Well-Deserving of Its Loud Oscar Buzz

A Separation opens brilliantly. A couple faces us arguing about a divorce before an arbitrator. She wants to leave the country for a better life. He wants to stay to take care of his father who has Alzheimers. The judge asks if he hits her or has cheated. No, he's a good and decent man, she says. Most movies leave you when you exit the theater; this one stays with you. Who was bad? Who was good? We see how their marriage has broken apart and get a glimpse into the lives of another couple of lower economic scale. Asghar Farhadi has made a beautiful film which really never ends. The credits roll as we're waiting for a verdict and a gulf continues between the two leads. Last night I spoke with Reza Bahar, the producer of the new German film Bastard, that played at Film Neu. He moved to Germany from Iran when he was 8 and says there now might be about 200,000 Iranians in Germany. He said that he loved the film - A Separation - but hopes that the director speaks out a bit more as he continues to win awards. (It's on the short list of 10 for an Oscar and is expected to win.) It must be hard for Farhadi who wants his films to be seen by people in his country so he must tread carefully. Of course, he has things to say about circumstances there, but his film says a lot of it. We see prisoners sitting awaiting their fate. We see wives who still must defer to their husbands. The justice we see actually isn't too bad. They are genuinely concerned about the lead chracter's guilt. There are scenes where all the adults complain and scream like the opening scene. One time, the two children exchange glances like get me out of here. The wife was smart enough to know that, but it will probably not happen. Make sure you see A Separation.

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