Already a hit on the festival circuit and in Europe, the Iranian drama A Separation is poised to become the latest American art house smash. The film won a Golden Globe on Sunday, and of this writing, it’s ranked number 80 on IMDb’s top 250 (Full Metal Jacket and Amadeus are 81 and 82, respectively). Writer/director Asghar Farhadi‘s latest is a relentlessly intense domestic drama, one where the audience must work through difficult questions involving class, religion, and family.
A middle-class couple is at the center of the film: Nader (Peyman Moadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) are ending their marriage because she wants leave Tehran for a better life. Nader feels he must stay at home so he can take care of his father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi), who has Alzheimer’s. With Simin staying elsewhere and his daughter (Sarina Farhadi) at school, Nader hires Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to take care of his father. Razieh and Nader have an argument of how best to treat the father, and its consequences lead to a legal battle where the truth is always elusive. I recently talked to Farhadi about his characters, Iranian censorship, and how Kurosawa influenced his work.