Magazine article The Spectator

Culture Notes People like Us

Magazine article The Spectator

Culture Notes People like Us

Article excerpt

This week A Separation , Asghar Farhadi's decept ively simple dome st ic drama , added the Osca r for Best Foreign Language film to its trophy case. Its success abroad ha s been at t r ibuted la rgely to it s universally recognisable premise;

unlike much Iranian cinema, Farhadi's film feels modern, offering an int imate snap shot o f socia l divisions in present-day Tehran.

Most Western audiences will spend the first five minutes, in which we see a husband and wife asking a judge for a divorce, marvelling at just how like us these people seem.

The film's style feels familiar, too.

As in Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage (which Farhadi openly admits to imitating), the camera is close-up, inquisitive rather than didactic. Morality, even the truth, seems to be subjective here.

But although its surface impa r t ia l ity helped the f i lm get pa st o f f iciou s cen sor s , underneath is a more complex picture. …

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