Opening 2 Feb 2017
Emad (Hosseini) and Rana (Alidoosti) live in effervescent Teheran. Due to complications in an adjacent construction site, they must move at short notice before their apartment house collapses. Finding housing quickly is difficult in Teheran; luckily a friend offers them an empty apartment at the last minute and they move in, although the former resident has left much of her own belongings, which she plans to retrieve in some uncertain future. One day, Rana, in expectation of her husband, pushes the downstairs entry button and then walks into the shower. A strange man enters, who, surprised at her resistance, sexually attacks her. The neighbors find Rana and take her to the hospital. We learn that the prior resident was a call girl; this attacker was a customer who expected service and resorted to violence to get it.
Although Emad and Rana enjoy a modern relationship, still, they feel the need to comply with ancient expectations of a woman’s honor. They do not inform the police and Emad sets out to investigate on his own. Word spreads in the neighborhood and people talk behind their backs. Rana suffers anxiety attacks, cries a lot, and refuses to sit alone anywhere. The relationship between Emad and Rana slowly disintegrates as they attempt to reach a solution in different ways of coping with guilt, shame, and revenge.
Director Asghar Farhadi has based the title on the Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman. Emad, who is a teacher by profession, acts on stage in his free time and his theater group presents this Miller drama. Farhadi says the original play represents New York City in the 1940s, when sudden change caused the fall of a certain social class. He says that this could also be the case with modern-day Teheran. The Salesman is deservedly nominated for an Oscar for best foreign-language film. (Becky Tan)