Friday, November 18, 2011

Jodái-e Náder az Simin / Nader and Simin, A Separation

جدایی نادر از سیمین / Nader ja Simin: ero / Nader och Simin: en separation. IR 2011. P+D+SC: Asghar Farhadi. DP: Mahmoud Kalari. PD: Keyvan Moghaddam. Make-up: Mehrdad Mirkiani. M: Sattar Oraki. S: Reza Narimizadeh. ED: Hayedeh Safiyari.
    Cast: Shabab Hosseini (Hodjat), Sarina Farhadi (Termeh), Merila Zarei (Miss Ghahraii), Ali-Asqhar Shahbazi (Nader's father), Babak Karimi (interrogator), Kimia Hosseini (Somayeh), Shirin Yazdanbakhsh (Simin's mother), Sahabanu Zolghadr (Azam). 123 min.
    A Cinema Mondo release with Finnish / Swedish subtitles.
    2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 5, Helsinki, 18 Nov 2011 (day of Finnish premiere).
    Technical specs (IMDb): Film negative format: 35 mm (Fuji Eterna 500T 8573, Eterna 400T 8583) - 1.85:1.

A modern Iranian couple gets separated because the mother Simin wants to move abroad for the education of their 11-year old daughter Termeh, and the father Nader needs to stay in Tehran to take care of his father who has Alzheimer's disease. They don't get a divorce, so Simin moves to her parents. Nader's father now needs a housemaid, and they get the young, traditionally religious Razief who is pregnant, comes with her little daughter, and has to work in secret from her hot-tempered husband Houjat who is under heavy pressure from debtors. The father's Alzheimer's disease is getting worse, and complications and misunderstandings set in motion a dramatic chain of events.

Nader and Simin is one of the best films of the year. It may be an authentic account of life in modern Tehran, but for a viewer like myself with no acquaintance with Iran its universal values stand out. At first sight, Nader and Simin is about sex, class and religion, but the fundamental concerns of the movie are even deeper than that.

Nader and Simin is a story- and character-driven film. The story and the characters are powerful and full of details worth reflecting. The issues in the dramatic conflicts are relevant, and the strands of the storyline intertwine in meaningful ways. David Bordwell has paid attention to the special kind of suspense in Asghar Farhadi's movies - a suspense often conveyed via dialogue.

Children are prominent in modern Iranian cinema, and in Nader and Simin the two daughters are main carriers of conscience. When Termeh asks: "Father, are you telling the truth?", it is a question that Nader cannot ignore. Honesty is one of the themes of the movie (what if honesty leads to injustice?), pride is another (pride as a form of misunderstood self-respect), and love still another (the imperatives of love may transcend other values). To support her family Razief takes the job about which she has to lie to her husband, and she experiences a miscarriage because of a collision with a car into which she has landed to save the Alzheimerian father in the traffic. (The story's complications include her baby daughter's fiddling with the father's medical equipment, which may have aggravated his condition.) There are no simple solutions. A basic issue is that Nader and Simin live a relatively safe life. Razief and Houjat live in mortal danger: Houjat under a death threat from his debtors, Razief under a death threat from her husband. The priorities of the two couples are incompatible. There are tragic values in Nader and Simin: there is greatness in the pursuits of the protagonists, but they fail because of their own shortcomings such as false pride.

Visually Nader and Simin is largely a realistic chamber piece, based often on medium shots of people in interiors. In the 2K DCP the digital post-production based on the 35 mm film negative looks fine, and there is a refined intensity in the cinematography of the faces.

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