Movies on the Wall

Farhadi: A Separation

This is early April, 2019.
Last year Asgar Farhadi released his new movie Everybody Knows in Cannes. His followers on the net allowed him some leeway in judging the movie. Rotten Tomatoes ranked it favourable with 77% approval rating (compare it with 99% for Farhadi’s masterpiece A Separation).  Some were unhappy that Farhadi was now speaking glamour to glamour. With penelope Cruz and Xavier Bordem starring in the film, RollingStone reviewed it as a “master and a misfire”.
I’m, however, in the company of a friend who is madly in support of Farhadi. If Farhadi fandom has reached its climax, then it is in him. He tells me that it’s only natural that Farhadi would be called away to Europe to work with an internationally distinguished cast. I’ve some reservations about that but, I admit, Farhadi is a giant in his own right.
I have watched A Separation (2011) almost half-a-dozen times now. I’m drawn to its everydayness. I’m drawn to its quarrelsome, solipsistic characters whose every step in the movie is a prelude to self-destruction.
In A Separation Farhadi tells the story of a couple (Simin and Nader) going through an unpleasant divorce. Simin wants to leave the country, but Nader has to look after his ailing father. Termeh, their eight year old daughter, has to choose one of her parents to live with.
Farhadi creates exquisite plots and tormented characters. His camera dances hand held, unsettles you. Remember what Trauffaut said of Alfred Hitchcock? Hitchcock, he told the American Film Institute in 1979, shoots murder scenes like love scenes and love scenes like murders.
While watching A Separation, Iran’s first Golden Bear winner, I kept remembering Trauffaut’s words. This is a simple family drama shot like a mystery documentary. Here close-ups and extreme close-ups clash with each other.  Characters are consumed by a passion to express, as they flow in a rhythmic curve in an out of the frames. Farhadi revels in verbose and not in the brooding romanticism of meditative shots.
Watch this movie for its superb control over dramatic movements. This is not Russian montage, or Hollywood’s continuity editing, but a highly stylized minimalistic editing that can make characters come alive.
Picture Courtesy: IMDB



Rajarshi Mitra

Rajarshi Mitra

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