Film Review: ‘A Separation’


Writer and director Asghar Fahadi’s latest film A Separation (2011) is a testament to what is wonderful about world cinema and approaches a subject universal to all. Whether you are from the East, South, North or West, at some point we are all in a relationship that faces difficulties. A Separation approaches theses difficulties with a huge amount of compassion and understanding.

A Separation is filmed principally using a hand held camera and provides the opportunity to witness some of the finest Iranian actors and actresses, including Peyman Moaddi, Leila Hatami and Sareh Bayat. The film is an honest and extremely well considered drama successfully exploring the complex nuances of relationships by observing a small group of people within the constraints of Iranian culture.

The plot centres on a short period of intense, high drama between a couple who face the decision of whether they should leave Iran in the hope a better life for their child, or remain in the country to look after a parent who suffers from Alzheimer’s. This causes understandable tension in the marriage and the possibility of divorce looms.

The tale has been crafted with such a deft touch that what could have easily become a soap opera story becomes something so much more. It is a story, which engages with moral and emotional complexities of subjects as wide ranging as marriage, gender and the law.

The characters possess a great sense of sophistication aided by incredibly impressive casting particularly in the case of Sareh Bayat who plays Razieh the lead female role. The viewer is pulled into the drama of the character’s lives and forced to confront the issues they face along with them. The complexity of the characters is wonderful; as a viewer you in one scene enraged at their actions then following a plot twist in the next scene you are wholeheartedly sympathizing with them. This film asks you to love it and to become emotionally engaged with the characters for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.

It is unsurprising that A Separation was awarded 3 Golden Bears at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. By the end of the film you recognise that their story is not completely told, that each life will continue and you have seen but a small, yet significant, moment in each of their lives. It is truly one of the finest examples of character development I have witnessed and it should be used on every syllabus throughout the lands as an example of what it is to write a well-crafted screenplay.

Joe Walsh