Forushande / The Salesman (2016)
Dir: Asghar Farhadi
It’s a shame Asghar Farhadi won’t be at the Oscars this year because I think he might actually win his second Academy Award, or at least he deserves to for this intense film.
When a couple have to move apartment as theirs is seriously damaged, their new place has remnants of the last tenant they cannot get rid of, leading to an unexpected and life-changing intrusion.
I’ve only seen one other Asghar Farhadi film, the fantastic ‘A Separation‘ which I thought was superb. This has left an even bigger impression on me as Farhadi adeptly draws us in to his central characters lives, then keeps us close as we watch things fall apart for them, leading to one of the most gripping conclusions to a film I’ve seen in a while.
There are many things about this film that I thought were very well done. Firstly the central couple, Emad and Rana, who are brilliantly portrayed by Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti respectively. I believed every aspect of their relationship, even when things change dramatically I could understand the ways they react to it and their surprising behaviour as I was invested in them and remained on their side even when their actions are dubious.
There’s an element of unfolding mystery surrounding the intruder. Piecing together the evidence and tracking the person down in itself is gripping and it isn’t rushed or obvious. You can eventually begin to see the way the film is heading, yet as Emad is such a pleasant man, how dramatically things develop is still surprising. I found myself on the edge of my seat for the last third or so of the film, it was so carefully developed and paced just a step ahead of what I could try to predict was coming, with real intensity and a sense of uncertainty. By the very end I found myself a little breathless and stunned, both by the events shown and how well the film held my attention.
Asghar Farhadi has said that even if he’s technically able to travel to the United States he will not be attending the Academy Awards this year in reaction to the recent travel ban. It’s a shame, especially as I think he could win, though strangely I think this controversy will increase the film’s chances as it’ll have reminded voters about the film and put it to the top of their watchlists. I imagine many of them will react similarly to myself, they’ll be glad they saw it and agree it probably should win (though I must point out that at the time of writing, this is the only one of the 5 ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ nominees that I’ve seen so I can’t speak to this in relation to other only on its own merits). This is a fantastic film and I will now make a concerted effort to see more of the directors work as I recorded ‘The Past’ and ‘About Elly’ off the television a few months ago but have never gotten around to watching them.
‘The Salesman’ is nominated for the ‘Best Foreign Film’ Academy Award. It’s a superbly gripping piece of cinema that had me completely captivated and stands a really good chance of deservedly winning on Sunday.
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