Faced with a proverbial crossroads, a family find themselves having to make a truly difficult decision. Unbeknownst to us all, we will likely have to reach troubling resolutions of our own at some point or another. A Separation offers a choice with immediate disadvantages for either shunned option, and to choose between the past or the future is a core message of this film from director Asghar Farhadi. Such timely and terrifying decisions will undoubtedly cause ripples of tension, fractures and cracks begin to show on the most understanding and loving relationships, that is what happens when passionate but differing viewpoints butt heads.
Here, these viewpoints engage with two morally righteous plans. To either move from Iran for the betterment of their child’s future, or to remain and aid the ailing, Alzheimer’s-inflicted parent. Such a choice is not an easy one, and no solution is ever alluded to in the opening moments of A Separation. In fact, the opposite is presented, a couple that have argued their points constantly finally find themselves at the end of their road. A miserable co-existence, their patience snapped and their admirable focus on what they believe is just and right is mused upon with exceptional style and maturity. Farhadi does not present a clear and correct answer, both parents are in the right and both have the same goal in sight, a protection of their family unit. How they go about preserving their lineage and looking out for one another take extremely different turns.
As Simin (Leila Hatami) and Nader (Peyman Maadi) argue and struggle, the pain expressed by each character is bleak and noticeable. Moments such as this do not need dialogue, not clear speech anyway. Shouts and fits of anger, every person a mean-spirited husk full of self-righteous needs. An almost primal urge to protect loved ones and family, no matter the damage or inadvertent harm they cause. Farhadi crafts a narrative that will elicit an array of emotions, and its strength here is cultivating a set of understandable characters, yet at the same time completely loathsome for their characteristics and the way they act. Tragedy throttles the leading pair often, and although their actions are morally dubious, it is nothing compared to their own treatment.
But who are they to decide their problems are larger than that of others? Every family has underlying issues. With possibilities of complete annihilation always on the horizon, each member must do their best to protect their own interests, no matter who they put down to do so. One of the truest and heart-wrenchingly ardent films to date, A Separation wraps itself up in miserable realism and unflinching detail. Here is a collation of numerous stories detailing everyday life, presented in their inevitable, impactful forms. Stuffy courtrooms are steeped in sweat, anger and tears, the knock-on effect of this emotion is the creation of a stunning drama that deals with moral and ethical issues with prominence and promise.