‘A Separation’ Review: A Thought Provokingly Complex Moral Debate Intertwined With a Brilliant Narrative

Photo Credit: http://www.dreamlabfilms.com/nader-and-simin-a-separation/

A lot of films struggle when it comes to handling human morals. A Separation provides its viewers with several outstanding dilemmas that families from around the world face every day. Is divorce ever ethical? How far should you go to protect your loved ones? How far should you go to protect yourself? These questions and more are all dealt with in this fantastic Iranian film.

The film starts off with its two main characters trying to get a divorce, and the government refusing to grant them one. When the wife moves out, the husband is forced to hire a caretaker for his father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Through a series of visually ambiguous events, the caretaker ends up in a legal battle against the husband. This is where the ethical debates will divide viewers on who is entitled to what. In the end, the film shows us that none of it matters and that the truth is never quite what it seems to be. The stakes are high, making for some very impressive edge of your seat moments.

I do have to say, however, that while the opening scene does peak your interest, much of the momentum is lost soon after until the first of A Separation‘s many shocking twists. Other than that, the story flows incredibly well, culminating in a satisfying conclusion for the perceptive viewer.

The acting is all top notch. Particularly great performances come from Leila Hatami and Peyman Moaadi, who play the couple trying to get divorced. Many foreign films suffer from over the top performances, but the characters in A Separation feel incredibly real, a true achievement in the eyes of an American viewer who must constantly look down and read what they are saying.

I can see why this film is getting all of the attention for foreign categories this awards season. Filled with brilliant performances, an exciting tale, and countless ethical inquiries, A Separation will stick with you long after you see it. (***1/2 out of 4)

 

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