"A Separation" shows, um, downsides of living in Iran



After seeing the critically lauded Iranian film A Separation a couple of weeks back, my first thought was about where it would rank on my Top 10 list for 2011. My second thought was that I couldn't believe writer/director Asghar Farhadi wasn't rotting in some Tehran dungeon for the manner in which his film depicts everyday life in Iran — namely, with apparent accuracy.

Instead, this riveting drama is Iran's official submission for Best Foreign Film(!) and, after Sunday's deserving win at the Golden Globes, the odds-on favorite to win an Oscar. Just the fact that the movie was allowed to be released overseas at all tells me that the mullahs who run things over there don't have any grasp of how fucked-up their country and culture would appear to non-Muslim outsiders.

My colleague Curt is working on an actual review of A Separation, so I won't try to steal his thunder. Instead, I wanted to briefly discuss the film's warts-and-all portrayal of contemporary Persian society. It's no spoiler to reveal that the movie opens with a married couple seated before a judge; the wife, Simin, seeks a divorce from Nader so she can take their teenage daughter Termeh to grow up abroad. Why, the judge asks, what's wrong with Iran? Simin doesn't answer. But the rest of the movie illustrates can be seen as an argument for her position.

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