A Separation (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
August 2, 2012 by Dennis Amith
Asghar Farhadi has written and directed a pure cinematic masterpiece. Captivating, compelling and wonderful! “A Separation” is highly recommended.
TITLE: A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin)
FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 123 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Defiition (widescreen 1:85:1), Persian/Farsi, French LCR DTS-HD MA (Discrete Surround), Subtitles: English, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: PG-13 (For Mature Thematic Material)
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Written and Directed by Asghar Farhadi
Produced by Asghar Farhadi
Executive Producer: Negar Eskandarfar
Music by Sattar Oraki
Cinematography by Mahmoud Kalari
Edited by Hayedeh Safiyari
Production Design by Keyvan Moghaddam
Peyman Moadi as Nader
Leila Hatami as Simin
Sareh Bayat as Razieh
Shahab Hosseini as Hojjat
Sarina Farhadi as Termeh
Merila Zarei’i as Miss Ghahraii
Ali-Asghar Shahbazi as Nader’s Father
Babak Karimi as Interrogator
Kimi Hosseini as Somayeh
Shirin Yazdanbakhsh as Simin’s Mother
Sahabanu Zolghadr as Azam
Set in contemporary Iran, A SEPARATION is a compelling drama about the dissolution of a marriage. Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader and daughter Termeh. Simin sues for divorce when Nader refuses to leave behind his Alzheimer’s-suffering father. Her request having failed, Simin returns to her parents’ home, but Termeh decides to stay with Nader. When Nader hires a young woman to assist with his father in his wife’s absence, he hopes that his life will return to a normal state. However, when he discovers that the new maid has been lying to him, he realizes that there is more on the line than just his marriage.
Earlier this year, the 2011 film “A Separation” (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin), written, directed and produced by Asghar Farhadi (“About Elly”, “Fireworks Wednesday”, “Beautiful City”) became the first Iranian film to win an Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film”.
The film has achieved success in other countries, winning the “Golden Bear” for Best Film, Best Actress and Best Actor awards at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, winning a Golden Globe for “Best Foreign Language Film” and other awards around the world.
Also receiving a nearly unanimous favorable rating from film critics internationally, including voted #1 by Roger Ebert for “Best Film of 2011” and placing #2 in the annual “Best Film of 2011” by Sight & Sound’s critic poll.
And now, the most honored picture of the year will be released on Blu-ray in August 2012.
“A Separation” begins with Simin (as portrayed by Leila Hatami) trying to file for divorce from her husband Nader (as portrayed by Peyman Moadi). Not because of infidelity or their marriage is going bad but primarily because she wants to leave Tehran in order to give the best opportunity and life for their 11-year-old daughter Termeh (as portrayed by Sarina Farhadi).
The problem is that Nader wants to stay in Tehran to take care of his elderly father (as portrayed by Ali-Asghar Shahbazi) who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. But because their Visa that allows them to move is about to expire in a few months, Simin wants the divorce to go through, despite being married for 14 years. All Simin wants is to be granted the divorce, so she can move with Termeh. Problem is, Termeh doesn’t want to move away and wants to stay with her father.
But to the family court who must judge if he can grant the divorce to Simin, feels there is no course for him to grant the divorce. Nader hasn’t beaten his wife, nor had he ever been in an affair. There are no major problems between the couple. So, the divorce is rejected.
This upsets Simin who packs up and leaves her husband and daughter to move back with her mother. Knowing that Nader will need help as someone must care for his father while he is at work and Termeh is in school, she recommends the hiring of Razieh, a deeply religious woman from a poor area.
Razieh (as portrayed by Sareh Bayat) is pregnant and has a young daughter who can assist with the chores at Nader’s home during the day. Razieh is also working at a job without consulting her husband Hodjat (as portrayed by Shahab Hosseini), a hot-tempered young man who is in financial trouble with creditors.
During the first day of the job, it becomes so overwhelming for Razieh because Nader’s father has soiled himself and she is not sure if she can see another man naked to clean him. So, she calls a religious hotline to find out if it’s a sin to change an elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease and she gets the go ahead. But the work is too demanding and tells Nader that she is going to quit because there was no mention before the job that she would have to bath and change his father clothes.
Nader is shocked because he doesn’t know who he could find and trust to watch over his father and stay at their home during the day. But Razieh hopes to have her husband work the job but does not want her husband to know that she worked there. So, Nader meets with Hodjat, learns how he is in financial trouble and offers the job to him.
But the following day, Hodjat does arrive because he was jailed by the creditors and now Razieh tells Nader that for that day, she will work in her husband’s place.
While taking out the garbage and cleaning, somehow Nader’s father has left the house and Razieh goes out after him and finds him amidst all the busy automobile traffic on the street.
We then see Razieh who is looking very sick while riding the bus and looks as if she is going to faint. Still not feeling well the day after, she goes to work in the place of her husband Hodjat once again.
As for Nader, he and his daughter Termeh come home very early but to their shock, no one is answering the door. As the two come inside the house, they don’t find Razieh or her daughter anywhere and worse, Nader’s father tied to the bed and looking as if he is dead. Nader and Termeh are scared for the worse but he is still breathing. Nader tries to get his father back on his feet and take care of him. Meanwhile, Nader checks a room and finds money missing from the home (not knowing that it was his wife Simin who took the money earlier in the week to pay the movers).
When Razieh and her daughter come back to the house, Nader goes ballistic on her and fires her. She asks for his pay but he accuses her for stealing money from the home on top of neglecting his father which she could have killed him.
Razieh, who is deeply religious doesn’t tell Nader of why she left but she is concerned for his father and pleads that she would never steal money from him. She swears to God that she never did it. But Nader, who is very angry, kicks her out.
Razieh then comes back with her spare key, deeply offended that she has been called a thief and Nader pushes her out of his home. We then hear a ruckus and her daughter crying as Razieh is helped up off the steps by some of the women living in the complex.
The following day, Nader receives an important message that his wife wants to meet with him. When they meet, Simin asks what happened to Razieh because she was yelled at by Razieh’s sister-in-law and received a call that she has been hospitalized and suffered a miscarriage because Nader pushed her and she fell off the stairs.
Shocked by what has happened, Nader, accompanied by Simin, go to visit Razieh and meets with Hodjat. When Hodjat finds out that his wife was working for him, he goes ballistic and starts hitting Nader.
Because of the seriousness of what had happened, a court is assigned to determine the cause of the miscarriage and if Nader is guilty of the crime, he can go to prison for 1-3 years for murder. Nader denies the crime and tells the court that he had no idea that she was pregnant because she was wearing a cowl and his push was in response for Razieh stealing money and neglecting his father. Razieh tells Nader that she was deeply hurt by the accusation and also that she told him and his family, along with a tutor that was there, that she was pregnant before taking the job. Why would he push a pregnant woman, when he knew of her health status. Nader denies ever hearing this discussion.
So, the court must do their investigation whether or not Nader caused the miscarriage of Razieh’s child and will talk to witnesses of whether or not they knew of Razieh’s pregnancy. Who is telling the truth? Who is lying?
And for Nader’s wife Simin and young daughter Termeh, what happens when they are caught up in all this trouble?
“A Separation” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Despite being a low-budget film, the clarity and detail of the film is very good. The film is colorful, warm and for the most part, considering the majority of the shots are indoors, picture quality is very good. I didn’t notice any artifacts, banding or any problems while watching this film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“A Separation” is presented in Persian/Farsi, French LCR DTS-HD MA (Discrete Surround). Because the film is a lossless stereo track, while the film is primarily dialogue driven, the dialogue is crystal clear along with the music by Sattar Oraki which sounds wonderful. While it would have been nice to have a 5.1 lossless track for ambiance and better dynamic range especially in scenes featuring crowds or traffic noise, but because the film is primarily within close quarters, dynamic range is limited, but yet dialogue and music are clear.
Subtitles are in English and French.
“A Separation” comes with the following special features:
- Commentary with Writer/Director Asghar Farhadi – Featuring a detailed audio commentary by filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (note: commentary is presented with English subtitles).
- An Evening With Asghar Farhadi – (30:42) A post screening Q&A with director Asghar Farhadi.
- Birth of a Director – (7:52) An interview with director Asghar Farhadi discussing his films.
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:03) The theatrical trailer for “A Separation”.
Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” is an amazing and cleverly written film. A film that captivates an audience and you become emotionally invested in it because not only is it a family drama, it’s also an emotional drama in which you sympathize with all characters, who each have their own personal motivation.
Is it philosophical? There are tangents within each human connection that there is no way anyone can pick one side.
Simin is a mother who puts her daughter’s future ahead of her own marriage. She is not being selfish, knowing how life is in Iran, all she wants is the best for her daughter and knowing that moving to a better area can lead to a better life for her family. In her mind, her father-in-law is alive, but he rarely speaks and is just a person with no future as he had lived his life and now, no longer has any recollection of it. He doesn’t even know his own son, that is how bad Alzheimer’s disease has consumed him. So, can you blame Simin for now wanting to make a move on life? It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her husband or her father-in-law but for most parents, to invest in your children’s future and making sure they have a better life than their parents is important.
For Nader, he is the evocative character. A loving son, a caring father, but his wife is forcing him make a choice…father or family? This is a difficult choice because perhaps for Nader, his father is what made him to become a man. It appears that his father was a big part of his life and it shows as Nader gives all he can to take care of his father within reasonable means. And there is no way his wife is going to destroy that important father and son relationship. His father may not be the same man as he once was, but he feels that he owes it to him, to care for him while he is alive. And the fact that his wife leaves him, his feelings towards her is no longer the same. And there is no doubt that his argument with Razieh, the woman hired to care for his father was fueled by anger. By tying his father up and his father close to dying, it’s hard to be angry with Razie and why he reacts the way he does towards her. Pushing her is wrong, but did he know she was pregnant or not?
For the 11-year-old daughter Termeh, she represents the blood connection to Nader and Simin. The only connection to keeping the family together. She knows she can go with her mother and leave, but she would never do such a thing because she loves her father as well. And as long as she stays with her father, she knows that her mother will never leave far away from her. But as Termeh is a smart girl, the court case revolving around her father begins to take its toll, as she starts to learn how different they towards each other. But all she wants is for her parents to be married…but will she have any power to keep them together or will they remain separated.
And as you have the family drama persisting throughout the film, you now deal with the supporting characters.
Razieh, the very religious woman with a daughter, pregnant but must deal with her husband’s financial problems and temper. She takes on a job, far from her home in order to make money to help the family. But having been shamed by Nader and accused for stealing money, which she argues that she didn’t, to make things worse, she loses her baby because of Nader.
And now this becomes the focus of the story as she wants Nader punished for the loss of her child. Her husband Hodjat has a hot-temper but he also would rather see Nader punished for the loss of his baby than take any financial payment. But because of his temper and troubles, when it is used against him, he feels that its unfair to him and his wife. For Razieh, because they are poor, because their is no official papers to show employment, because her husband’s hot temper is becoming a hindrance, the audience begins to question. Is Nader responsible for her miscarriage?
There are many situations which we may feel are implausible and ineffable, but once you start to feel yourself straying to one side and supporting a character, situations start to make you reverse and question that decision. Is Nader genuine? Is he telling the truth or is he lying? Is the religious Razieh lying? Will Termeh be dragged into this as well? It’s all part of the wonderful pacing and buildup of the film, which I found captivating!
“A Separation” is a Blu-ray release that looks great via HD. While the lossless audio is primarily dialogue and is front channel driven, there are careful shots that are employed in the film. Facial reactions, well-planned editing that compliments the film’s pacing. And there is also a few special features included as well, that introduces us to the work of filmmaker Asghar Farhadi.
What I enjoyed about Asghar Farhadi’s film is that it’s not polemic, it’s not forcing religion or any belief. It’s a film that makes us sympathize with every character, as they all believe what they are doing is right. The film is character-driven and what Farhadi was able to create are moments that make us feel we know the facts, when we really don’t. Each person has their own personal motive.
But it’s their genuine actions, their own personal convictions that keep them separated. Its strong storytelling and character development is what adds to the efficacy of Farhadi’s masterpiece!
“A Separation” is a film that is very deserving of all the awards it has won, it is deserving of its Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film” and its a rare film to see in today’s world. Yes, the film is made in Iran and gives us a perspective of how law is served, how religion is important to certain people of society but it’s also a modern film that strays away from what people think about films being created in the Middle East. Nader and Simin are among the upper middle class in Tehran, their daughter is educated and no matter how much media tends to portray Iranians, for those of us in the west, it’s important to have films such as “A Separation” showing audience of a modern society but also their culture, laws and no matter where you are in this world, problems exist not only for the poor but even people with money. Life’s never perfect and for marriages, there are sacrifices that need to be made. But how far will one go to make a sacrifice for their family?
Overall, Asghar Farhadi has written and directed a pure cinematic masterpiece. Captivating, compelling and wonderful! “A Separation” is highly recommended.
J!-ENT has not received any compensation from the company for this post. J!-ENT has no material connection to the brands, products, or services that are mentioned in this post.
For Product Reviews:
For product reviews, J!-ENT has purchased the above product for review purposes or may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free by the company which in no way affects our reviews, may it be positive or negative. We only recommend products or services we have tested/reviewed and believe will be good for our readers.
Some of the links in our posts are "affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, J!-ENT will receive an affiliate commission.
J!-ENT is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”