A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader as Simin)

First Hit:  Extremely well-acted Iranian film about choices, Iranian law, divorce and the religious aspects of relationships and actions.

Nader (played by Peyman Moadi) and Simin (played by Leila Hatami) are sitting in front of a judge.

They rarely look at each other as she makes a case for granting a divorce. It is clear, Nader wants to stay in their current home to take care of his ailing father, she wants them to leave the country together or divorce so that she can leave the country with their daughter.

Simin looks and feels more modern and ready to deal with the modern world outside their country. They both twist their stories to make it seem that each of them is right and on the right side of Islam.

The judge, never seen on camera, asks questions, tolerates the convoluted arguments each makes and puts religious beliefs into context of the law. In the end, no divorce is granted.

Their daughter Termeh (played by Sarina Farhadi) is caught between the parents but there is a sense that she is angry with her mother for wanting to split up the family, and she also fills in as the woman in the house when Simin moves out to live with her parents.

There is also a feeling that their religion also plays a hand in who goes where. Nadar hires Razieh (played by Sareh Bayat) to take care of his father while he is at work.

The story develops from here which expose lies and the spinning of the truth, a death, religious context, and Termeh having to make a life choice.

The film is long in places, but for foreign audiences this allows deeper explanations for actions and consequences. I felt as if I was given a unique window into Iranian life, two families, and how religion plays a role in their lives.

Moadi is excellent as a contained man struggling to do “what is right” for his father, wife and daughter. Hatami is sublime as a woman who wants and is willing to get more out of her life. She depicts strength and clarity. Bayat is reflective of a woman caught by so many influences while hiding what she really wants and needs. Shahab Hosseini as Hodjat is powerful and scary as Razieh’s husband who has been out of work, has a temper, and is in debt to other elders. Farhadi is fabulous as the daughter who wants to keep it all together and peaceful but also knows she will have to make an extremely difficult choice. Asghar Farhadi (Sarina’s father) wrote and directed this deeply moving and articulate film.

Overall:  This film deserved Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards – it is insightful and well thought out.