Opening 14 Jul 2011
Two years ago I saw a wonderful and mysterious Iranian film called About Elly, which won the Silver Bear at the Berlinale film festival. This year director Asghar Farhadi brought a film that was even more complex and interesting: Nader and Simin, a Separation, which clearly won first prize: the Golden Bear. Its basic concept is quite complex; the theme is divorce in Iran, a topic heard on the news everyday. It was interesting to learn that the divorce rate is quite high there.
Simin wants to divorce her husband since he will not leave the country in order to provide a better education for their daughter. They had done all the preparation for this step but, at the last moment, Nader refuses to leave behind his father, who has Alzheimer's. Since they are a modern family, their daughter can decide with whom she will live until she finishes her exams. Simin represents the future for her daughter, whereas Nader represents the past. He still requires an emotional connection to the past (his father), but since father and son are unable to communicate, this relationship has been ruptured.
One of the most interesting aspects of the film dealt with the caretaking of Nader’s father. Since he had Alzheimer's, he was prone to leaving the house and losing his way as well as not having control of his bladder. Without Simin, Nader finds a substitute caretaker, a pregnant woman who brings along her small child. Soon it is obvious that, according to Islam, her job should be forbidden. But what is allowed? The film showed many sides of life in Iran, aspects which for us seem strange and hard to understand, but in the end, the conflicts must be resolved in order to move forward. Stars Babak Karimi, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, and Sarina Farhadis. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)