A Separation (2011)
Dir: Asghar Farhadi
This wonderful film from Iran won the Academy Award for best foreign language film, and very deservedly so.
The opening scene really sets up the film very well, the camera is in the position of a Judge who leading couple Nader and Simin have gone before. The viewer is brilliantly stuck between two of them as he is, and hearing their case that Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband and daughter, but he’s refusing to go, and so she files for a divorce and the two of them separate. This then sets into motion the rest of the dramatic events, that can all be seen as somewhat knock-on effects of this action.
The film is full of interesting cultural elements, such as the legal system with the family appearing before a judge a few times, and a housekeeper who has to phone a helpline to check if helping an elderly man with Alzheimer’s get changed is a sin.
The brilliance lies in the way that the audience is kept in dark on lots of details, we’re not privy to lots of extra information, the details emerge gradually, many of them given before the judge, and we as viewers are essentially kept in the judge’s position throughout.
Right to the end no specific side is taken on any matter, with sympathies given and taken away from each character for different reasons, and no specific strong bias forced, so we are left to make our own judgement on matters.