A Separation (جدایی نادر از سیمین) won the Oscar this year for the Best Foreign Film category, a first for an Iranian movie. Set in Tehran, the movie begins with Nader and Simin trying to end their marital relationship. Simin wants to move out of Iran, while Nader wants to stay back and look after his ailing dad. Simin moves back to her parents’ home and Nader is left to fend for his dad and daughter. He hires a maid to look after his dad while he is at work. When Nader discovers the maid mistreating his dad, he throws her out and she alleges that this caused the miscarriage of her baby. The maid’s husband and the law start to wreck Nader’s life, while he tries to figure out if the miscarriage was really his fault.
Directed by Asghar Farhadi, A Separation has the frenetic pace of a Bourne thriller applied to a domestic setting. Personal values, religious beliefs, societal classes and personal relationships all come together in a chain of events that could happen to anyone. The acting is top-notch, Peyman Moaadi (Nader) and Leila Hatami (Simin) can easily put anyone in Bollywood to shame. The cinematography is delicious, using some beautiful shots for the home scenes and bathing Tehran in warm colors. Indian culture and customs share a lot with Persia (Iran). It was a delight to spot many Urdu (or Hindi?) words amongst Persian dialogues and to take in the hand gestures, greetings and home decor. A Separation is an engrossing watch and I look forward to catching more Iranian movies.