Iranian drama Nader and Simin: A Separation won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival.
Director Asghar Farhadi‘s film, which also took the best acting prizes, tells the story of a troubled marriage.
In a repressed Iran, cinema has become very expressive of social ills but not being free to use an open language it uses complex plots and at times it uses what I would call a void of view.
This film says more about a broken society that has class and gender conflicts than a broken marriage.
On one side we have Simin who wants the family to move abroad so that her daughter can have a future on the other Nader is obliged to stay and care for his elderly incontinent father and battles whatever the society and consequence throws at him.
The couple are portrayed as intelligent caring people and in many ways they are supportive of each other and amicable.
What is not expressed (perhaps due to censorship) is why a caring, intelligent mother who herself is attached to care for Nader’s elderly father (we hear the elderly Alzheimer ridden father mistaking others for Simin) and passionate about her culture wants to leave Iran as an act of saving her daughter’s future.
We witness Nader a middle class well-educated man not having any support from the society in caring for his father. Consequently he hires an unsuitable carer a pregnant woman whose husband has become unemployed being forced to take on such a responsibility and her inability and knowledge leads to a twist of conflicts between genders and social classes.
The eleven-year-old child who gets caught in the middle of these conflicts learns to grow up fast and like many Iranians leads a double life when facing authorities or in her case the judiciary.
Overall this film is outstanding for the screenplay, directing and acting. The dialogue, storyline is excellent and expressive of the reality of the life of many Iranians.
This is not a one off excellent film from Iran, and if you like good films then I recommend films by such directors as Farhadi as well as Panahi who has a similar style but alas is currently kept as a political prisoner.