A Separation

This Oscar-winning (Best Foreign Film) drama from Iran is every bit as good as one of you JayFlix folks insisted it was! Persistence pays (AND backing a highly acclaimed film). Thanks for all those reminders. Part of what makes this so convincing is the unfamiliarity of the faces, but the rest is excellent direction, wonderful acting and an unpredictable story.

An elderly man is slowly sinking into the oblivion of Alzheimer's while his over-wrought son tries to provide care for him, hold a job, be an involved parent for his only child and, in his spare time, save his marriage. His wife has worked diligently to get visas so she, her husband and their daughter can leave Iran. The husband is adamantly opposed; he can't leave while his father (who no longer recognizes him) needs his help. The central issue is his father's disease and its disastrous effects on his family. It doesn't matter if we are in Tehran or Toledo, the ripple effects of Alzheimer's are the same.

Here are the players:
  • Peyman Moadi ("About Elly") Nader is dynamic, impatient, arbi- trary and loving. He cannot yield one iota, for fear he will lose everything. He feels his pride, his honor and his duty are in jeopardy, so nothing must interfere: not a wife, not a caretaker, not a daughter.
  • Leila Hatami ("The Deserted Station") Simin is smart, deter- mined and organized; she is the wife who wants a better life else- where. Even though she can't say so out loud, she is stifled by her world and doesn't want her daughter to grow up in it.
  • Sareh Bayat ("Devil's Take") Razieh is devout, obedient and desperate. She has been hired secretly (she is a woman) to care for the Alzheimer's patient. When he soils himself she has to call a Muslim help line to see if it is a sin for her to clean him up with no male in attendance.
  • Shahab Hosseini ("Final Whistle") Hodjat is the furious husband of the caretaker; she failed to get his permission before going to work. His rage fuels the last half of this film.
  • Sarina Farhadi in her screen debut, is Termeh, the teenage daughter who is caught in the tug-of-war between her parents.
I found the legal battles to be extremely interesting. All the parties convene in an office with what appears to be a magistrate. Each person presents his or her side of the story, amid interruptions and distractions from others, and the official tries to ascertain the truth. The part I really liked: NO LAWYERS! What an interesting concept.

It is the caretaker's deeply held religious conviction that provides the turning point on which all the other issues hinge.
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This trailer has closed captions:
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