Starring: Peyman Moaadi, Leila Hatami, Shahab Hosseini
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Running Time: 123 mins
A Separation (جدایی نادر از سیمین) is an Iranian film about a married couple who become torn between staying in difficult circumstances in their home country to look after an ageing relative, or moving abroad to improve the life of their young daughter.
If nothing else, this movie is a perfect demonstration of the power of a really good screenplay. Based entirely around dialogue in the most unspectacular of locations, A Separation is actually an exceptionally tense and enthralling film, thanks to its brilliantly-written screenplay, combined with impressive directing and fantastic performances.
The one thing that I have to say about this is that it’s a film that really requires intense concentration. It’s not a confusing or complex watch like Inception, but you need to be fully on the ball at all times watching A Separation, because its most powerful and important details come out in dialogue so naturally, with no song and dance to alert you to them, so you need to be listening to pretty much every word of dialogue extremely attentively to keep up.
However, that’s what really makes watching this film such a rewarding experience. It’s a proper drama, stripped down to the bare bones of acting, directing and writing, as it centres entirely on dialogues between a very small cast for the best part of two hours. I’m not going to deny that it’s a slow film that feels a lot longer than it is, but the story is so intriguing and intense that I was completely engrossed right the way through.
Of course, as great as the screenplay here is, it’s nothing without a great cast. Fortunately, though, the lead actors in A Separation are just as fantastic. Managing to emulate the realistic and natural feel that the dialogue does so well, while still bringing some amazingly exciting and powerful drama to the table, the performances here are brilliant right across the board, and even if the characters are by no means the most likeable people in the world, the actors do such a good job at pulling you into their lives and making you completely wrapped up in the situation at hand.
Finally, I’ve got to talk about Asghar Farhadi’s directing here. Although I loved the film, and some of his ingenious techniques to increase the tension throughout, I did think that Farhadi was maybe at fault for the film’s seemingly overlong duration. I was undoubtedly enthralled by the story and performances, but there were times when I did think that the pace at which the film unfolded did take a little of the extreme intensity away, meaning that, despite being hugely exciting, it wasn’t as powerful as it could have been.
Overall, however, I thought A Separation was a fantastic film. With an absolutely stunning screenplay that turns a raw, dialogue-driven drama into a riveting and intense watch, this film is hugely engrossing to watch throughout, and that’s why I’m giving A Separation an 8.2.