×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nader and Simin, a Separation

This impressive drama is Iranian helmer-writer Asghar Farhadi's strongest work yet.

With:
With: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Babak Karimi, Ali-Asghar Shahbazi, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh, Kimia Hosseini, Merila Zarei.

Tense and narratively complex, formally dense and morally challenging, Iranian helmer-writer Asghar Farhadi’s impressive drama “Nader and Simin, a Separation” is his strongest work yet. The provocative plot casts a revealing light on contempo Iranian society, taking on issues of gender, class, justice and honor as a secular middle-class family in the midst of upheaval winds up in conflict with an impoverished religious one. Simultaneously competing in Tehran’s Fajr Film Festival national section, the pic should find niche arthouse play in most territories offshore and a critical triumph at home.

Like Farhadi’s “About Elly” (which nabbed the director prize at the 2009 Berlinale), the plot-heavy “Nader and Simin” offers an extended setup. Bank employee Nader (Peyman Moadi) refuses to emigrate, and wife Simin (Leila Hatami) sues for divorce, citing better opportunities for their daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi, the director’s daughter) outside the country, in a scene that is perhaps the film’s least credible, logically and emotionally, but also the event that sets the rest of the story in motion.

After Simin decamps from the family apartment to the home of her mother (Shirin Yazdanbakhsh), Nader hires Razieh (Sareh Bayat), a devout young woman with a 4-year-old daughter (Kimia Hosseini), to mind his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi).

It soon becomes clear to viewers, if not to Nader (who is depicted as decidedly impractical about household matters), that the chador-clad Razieh is pregnant, and looking after the wandering, incontinent, elderly man will tax her energy as well as her religious principles. Moreover, her debt-ridden, out-of-work husband Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini) doesn’t know she has taken the job, and would never allow her to enter the home of a strange man without the man’s wife present.

When Nader returns early one day and discovers Razieh absent from her post, an ugly argument ensues upon her return. Taking place near the 45-minute mark, the fallout from this confrontation pits Nader and Razieh against one another in the Iranian legal system and forces all involved, including Termeh’s tutor (Merila Zarei), to consider the nature of loyalty, truth and integrity.

While the intricate screenplay ratchets up tension as it raises the stakes for its characters from scene to scene, its reliance on contrivance might irritate some viewers. Indeed, the conceit of Nader and Simin’s separation occasionally appears as a petty battle of wills, something that undermines the weight of other events. But these are minor criticisms, as most audiences will be swept up in the complexity and audacity of the plot.

As rich formally as it is in terms of story, the film plays throughout with what is heard and not seen, making the central visual motif of open and closed doors integral to the plot; the edgy lensing of Iran’s top d.p., Mahmood Kalari, uses choreography and framing to telegraph relationships and feelings. Thesping is praiseworthy across the board.

Nader and Simin, a Separation

Iran

Production: An Asghar Farhadi production with the support of Parasgard Bank, Asia Pacific Screen Awards. (International sales: Memento Films, Paris.) Produced by Asghar Farhadi. Executive producer, Negar Eskandarfar. Directed, written by Asghar Farhadi.

Crew: Camera (color), Mahmood Kalari; editor, Hayedeh Safiyari, production designer/costume designer, Keyvan Moghadam; sound (Dolby Digital), Mohammad Reza Delpak, Reza Narimizadeh. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (competing), Feb. 15, 2011. (Also in Fajr Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 123 MIN.

Cast: With: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Babak Karimi, Ali-Asghar Shahbazi, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh, Kimia Hosseini, Merila Zarei.

More Scene

  • Jordan Peele'Us' film premiere, Arrivals, New

    Jordan Peele Explains the Meaning Behind the 'Us' Michael Jackson Reference

    Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Us” is filled with pop culture references, from “Jaws” to “Goonies.” But the most divisive might be right in his opening sequence. Warning, minor spoilers ahead. The movie about a couple (played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) and their children being hunted and brutalized by a mysterious family that looks just [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Nick Offerman Amy Poehler

    'Parks and Recreation' Cast Talks Possibility of a Revival at 10th Anniversary Reunion

    For one night, Hollywood felt a little like Pawnee. The cast of NBC’s hit comedy “Parks and Recreation” reunited at PaleyFest on Thursday in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary. The whole Pawnee gang showed up: Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Retta, and Jim [...]

  • Andy CohenThe Shops and Restaurants at

    Andy Cohen to Receive Vito Russo Award at GLAAD Media Awards

    Mazel, Andy Cohen! Bravo’s late-night talk show host is set to receive the Vito Russo Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 4 in New York City. More Reviews L.A. Theater Review: 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama' Film Review: 'The Dirt' Sarah Jessica Parker will present him with the award, which is [...]

  • Variety TV Summit Europe

    Variety TV Summit Europe Coming to London on June 13

    Variety’s TV Summit Europe will coincide with London Tech Week this year, returning to the city on June 13. The international conference will be held at the Royal Lancaster and is co-produced by global events company Informa’s KNect365 division, the world’s largest business-to-business organizer. The one-day summit will focus on the intersection of content and [...]

  • David Furnish, Bryce Dallas Howard, Taron

    'Rocketman': Paramount Previews Footage of Elton John Biopic

    “Rocketman” is ready for lift off. Paramount Pictures threw a cocktail party Monday night to preview 15 minutes of the upcoming Elton John biopic, set for release on May 31, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the legendary rock club where John made his U.S. debut nearly 50 years ago. More Reviews L.A. Theater Review: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content