Review: 'A Separation' an award-winning look at Iran's culture

By Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comJanuary 16, 2013 

A Separation offers a unique, nongeopolitical, but dramatic peek into daily life in Iran.

For the nation's citizenry, day-to-day business is carefully balancing religion with their personal lives. This is not a negative. Their faith is very important to them, and to Irani society. As you know, Iran's religion and government are intertwined. If humanly possible, Iranians avoid their legal system. That's not unusual for any country -- including ours.

Nader and Simin are husband and wife. They have a conflict. She wants to leave Iran to give their daughter a chance for a better life. His dad has Alzheimer's and he can't go. The stalemate leads to a court date, a divorce and a battle over who gets the daughter.

The separation means there is no one at home to take care of his dad while he's at work. So Nader hires Razieh. She's pregnant and uncomfortable working for a separated man. Her religion forbids the contact, but her husband is unemployed so the need for money overrides religion.

Eventually a conflict develops with Nader, who doesn't know she's pregnant. Something happens that thrusts Nader, Simin, Razieh and her husband into a legal proceeding that brings them face-to-face with the Iranian justice system.

Writer/director Asghar Farhadi's story is fascinating and has deep, rich characters. His film is sometimes intense and quite dramatic. Like real life, it also has its sweet and poetic moments. Scenes in the nation's courts are chaos, and his depiction of law Islamic style, while not surprising, is an interesting peek at the nation's perception of justice.

This isn't a completely positive picture of Iran's culture. It's just a more realistic look than we normally get. There is a good reason A Separation won last year's Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and many other awards.

Don't miss this one.

Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It plays Friday, January 18 only at the Battelle Auditorium at 8:00 p.m.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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