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Posts Tagged ‘Asghar Farhadi’

** ,

Tarten Alidoosti, Shahab Hosseini

“THE SALESMAN”  My rating: B 

125 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Revenge is anything but sweet in the Oscar-winning (in the foreign language category) Iranian film “The Salesman.”

Writer/director Asghar Farhadi makes movies (“A Separation,” “The Past”) without the villains that usually fuel Hollywood melodrama. He doesn’t need villains; there are enough dark corners in even his most virtuous characters to keep us off guard and guessing.

His protagonists here are a husband and wife, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), who perform in amateur theater. Their current effort is Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” with Emad as Willy Loman and Rana as his wife, Linda.

The film opens with what passes for an action sequence in a Farhadi film. In the dead of night Emad, Rana and other residents of their apartment complex are awakened and told to evacuate. Heavy construction next door has undermined their building, cracking windows and sending spiderweb fissures spreading across the walls.

Scrambling to find temporary housing, the pair end up in a nearby vacant apartment. The previous tenant, they learn, was a woman with many male friends — in other words, a prostitute. (The world’s oldest profession endures even in puritanical Iran.)

One night, Emad returns from running an errand to learn that Rana has been attacked in the shower and neighbors have taken her to the hospital.

Emad and Rana agree they won’t go to the cops. She didn’t see her assailant’s face. Besides, the whole experience is too humiliating to relive before strangers.

The emotional toll of the incident, though, is profound. Rana is weepy and fearful, and Emad is frustrated and maddened by his inability to say or do the right thing: “At night I can’t come near. In the day it’s ‘Don’t go!’”

Naturally enough, his thoughts turn to revenge against Rana’s attacker. Emad figures the culprit could have been one of the prostitute’s clients and launches his own investigation. (more…)

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** as ***

Golshifteh Farahani as Sepideh

“ABOUT ELLY” My rating: B

119 minutes | No MPAA rating

Three families share a long weekend in a rented (and rundown) villa along Iran’s Caspian coast. There’s much good-natured joking, dancing, smoking, cooking out, eating.

These individuals — old law school acquaintances who’ve done well (at least if the BMWs they drive are any indication) — are joined on their mini-vacation by two visitors.  The first is their old friend Ahmad (the charismatic Shahab Hosseini), who lives in Germany and was recently divorced. The second is Elly (Taraneh Alidoosti), who teaches the young daughter of Sepideh, one of the wives.

Without consulting anyone else Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani) has  invited the single Elly along for the weekend. Ostensibly Elly is there to watch the kids, but it doesn’t take the group long to figure out that Sepideh is playing matchmaker. Especially when she tells the manager of their rental property that Ahmad and Elly are honeymooners. (Iran’s morality police surely would frown on this arrangement, no matter how innocent it seems by Western standards.)

The first 40 or so minutes of “About Elly” — from writer/director Asghar Farhadi, who had a huge art house hit with “A Separation” — are devoted to the settling-in process. Gas and electricity must be turned on, bags unpacked, months of dust and cobwebs swept out. Ahmad and Elly take a brief drive — neither wants to talk about why they’re both there. Several times during the first afternoon, in fact, Elly tries to leave to catch a bus back to Teheran. She’s talked out of it by Sepideh.

And then one of the children nearly drowns. After the confusion and panic of his rescue and resuscitation die down, someone notices that Elly is missing.

Did she make good on her plan to return home? Was she snatched (apparently the beach has a high crime rate)? Did she try to rescue the drowning boy and herself succumb to the waves?

The police are called, a search and rescue boat dispatched.  Nothing. If Elly did indeed drown, her body will wash up within a day or two.

Talk about putting a damper on the weekend!
(more…)

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