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Sunday, March 31

A Separation

People get separated from one another by a glass partition, different paths in life or distance, though I believe the worst form of separation is the one from your roots and your beliefs, which is rather a form of personal recantation. A Separation (2011) is about all that and then some. It is one of the most sensitive movies I have ever seen, so full of emotions, the kind of movie that doesn't take any side, nor does it point any finger at any of the characters. The viewer simply relates to every character and it is through this form of empathy that you come to grasp the dynamics of human relations and the choices they make.


There are these two people, middle-class Iranians: Nader (Peyman Moadi) and his wife, Simin (Leila Hatami) facing their separating ways. Simin plans to leave the country to live abroad, but Nader wants to stay and raise their only child, an eleven-year-old girl called Termeh (Sarina Farhadi), in Iran. The two spouses do not choose to go separate ways because they hate each other or no longer love one another, but because Simin desires to take a different path. The trouble appears when Simin goes to stay with her family and her daughter remains with Nader, a situation shadowed by his father's condition: he suffers from Alzheimer’s and lives with them. Nader hires a help named Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to spend the day with the old man; Razieh comes with her own daughter, Somayeh (Kimia Hosseini). The woman is with child but it is not completely obvious whether Nader is aware of her situation or not. One very unexpected moment is when the ill father wets his pants and Razieh finds herself in a difficult situation so she calls for religious advice. “If I change him, will it count as a sin?” she asks and the daughter, sensing the awkward, tense moment, says: “I won’t tell Dad.” The same old man flees the apartment and Razieh is forced to go after him and in order to prevent any future similar escapes, ties him to his bed. Nader returns home unexpectedly to find his father in this situation so he has a fight with Razieh, pushes her out of the apartment, she fells down the stairs and has a miscarriage.

Nader is charged with murder, imprisoned, the whole trial is at length described and after his release, he has to pay money to Razieh and her indebted husband to compensate for their loss. At the last moment, while at their house to settle the matter, in the company of the husband's creditors, Razieh admits to having been hit by a car before the actual fall. So the case is closed and the husband's anger is appeased by the smashing of Nader's windscreen.

The film raises issues such as the lack of egalitarian rights, the religious interference in the people's life or the absence of human rights. However, the writer and director, Asghar Farhadi, has a democratic approach to a coerced, religious world. Although following the severe Islamic laws, Simin, the mother, is modern in the way she wears jeans and the way she thinks, wishing to offer her daughter the opportunity to live in a safe country. Thus, we have another form of separation, that of the Islamic world and the Western beliefs, and we should feel drawn to Simin's side, to her attempt to regain her independence. But we are not, as the director immediately counterbalances and has the daughter accuse the mother of the whole situation with her father, blaming it all on her leave. Termeh is a very convincing character, torn between the accusations brought to her father and the love she feels for him; she struggles to find the truth and is caught in this story of blunt truths and deceiving adults.

The final scene of the movie is incredibly powerful, with the judge asking Termeh to choose the parent she wants to live with; she pauses, asks for her parents to leave the room, and sadly gazes into the judge's eyes, tears rolling down her face, unable to utter a word. The parents wait outside, the infamous glass partition between them. A separation.