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The private disintegration of a marriage becomes a very public affair in Asghar Farhadi’s flawless domestic portrait. The film opens with a palpable long take of wife and husband, Simin (Leila Hatami) and Nader (Peyman Moaadi) making their cases for divorce (for and against respectively): Simin wants to emigrate from Iran to give their daughter (Sarina Farhadi) a better life, while Nader refuses to shirk his obligation to care for his Alzheimic father. Farhadi then teases out the consequences of their impasse into a complex and far-reaching web of human foible and tragedy that entangles the housekeeper (Sareh Bayat) Nader is forced to hire once Simin moves out.
While Moaadi shoulders the drama with a superbly stoic and layered performance, which is beautifully countered by Bayat’s captivating conviction, it is young Sarina Farhadi (the director’s daughter) who shines from the side lines. Her closing scene will skewer your heart. Indeed, impeccable acting, writing and direction make A Separation a must see film, and one entirely deserving of all its international acclaim. Winning a Golden Globe and nominated for an Oscar, such accolades should help audiences take a chance on Farhadi’s keenly Iranian, yet ultimately universal tale of love, lies and conflicting loyalties.