A Separation – Iranian Movie on Amazon Prime

An Iranian husband is contending with a probable separation from his wife, and his schoolgirl daughter hasn’t committed on whose side she would be, and there is his dementia suffering father, and to compound the husband’s misery, he falls into a serious problem with his housemaid.

And, on the other side, is the housemaid’s family with unemployed husband and there too, is a daughter.

The daughters on both side of the divide play a significant role. They are both witness to their father’s or mother’s dissimulation, the lies they speak and truths they hide.

The context in which the story is framed is the Iranian justice system. Oath swearing on the Koran to prove innocence and blood-money (restitution) are few of the terms one should know of the Iranian justice system to understand the compulsions of the characters.

Nevertheless, it’s the character’s interactions which binds the story into a tight and racy plot. Most of the camera angles are close ups or medium shots and moving with the characters. The director Arshad Farhadi has made full use of the shoulder mounted cameras. The capture of the background both inside the house, the courtroom and the street is minimal and to the point. Most of the footage is focused on the character’s expressions while they interact through dialogues.

The Persian in the movie is spoken rather rapidly. Also the camera is pretty mobile. So there will be a challenge in reading subtitles. Despite this, the tone and cadence of the dialogue is appropriate to convey the meaning of what’s going on between characters.

One of the classic shots, short but touching, happens towards the end. All the characters are in the housemaid’s house where blood-money has to be paid. The deal fails and the camera catches the two daughters with their gaze locked on each. It’s a classic way to capture the undercurrents of emotions in that situation. The daughters, in their own simple ways have contributed to protect their families.

A special mention for Kimia Hosseini, the housemaids eight year old daughter for the most natural child actor expressions.

The movie’s ending is equally well crafted. For a story of this kind, what could be the possible endings? The story is on roller coaster from the start, provides for a lot of exchanges and drama and in the end, pauses. If you watch the movie wholeheartedly, you will feel the pause.