With dreams of starting a new life for her and her daughter, Simin takes her husband to court to give her the freedom to leave. Though unable to convince her daughter to go with her, Simin privately arranges for an acquaintance to request a job helping her ex-husband, Nader, take care of his ailing father. Now trying to balance work, his father’s care and his daughter, Nader feels the stress of making it all work. His hired help, Razieh, struggles with her religious expectations and her ability to care for the old man, so she tries to get her husband the work instead. When creditors seize him, Razieh continues to help out until she can get her husband back to take over. When conflict arises over his father’s care, Nader pushes Razieh out of his apartment, leading to a court battle between the two families for Nader’s potential involvement in Razieh’s miscarriage following their dispute.
Starring: Peyman Moadi (Nader), Leila Hatami (Simin), Sareh Bayat (Razieh), Shahab Hosseini (Hojjat), Sarina Farhadi (Termeh), Merila Zare’i (Miss Ghahraii), Ali-Asghar Shahbazi (Nader’s father), Babak Karimi (Interrogator), Kimia Hosseini (Somayeh), Shirin Yazdanbakhsh (Simin’s mother), Sahabanu Zolghadr (Azam)
Other than the Kimia Hosseini and Ali-Asghar Shahbazi, most of the characters are significantly flawed. Moadi represents a son who feels responsible for his father, but he also displays a stubbornness to both accept help for his problems and to own up to his mistakes. Leila Hatami highlights a desire to seek out something more but also accompanies that desire with a bit of selfishness. Sarina Farhadi is a little reserved and follows the lead of Moadi, but she also brings to question a number of the discrepancies Moadi’s character presents.
Asghar Farhadi put together a feature that blends together dramatic relationships under a religious context. With divorce being a rarity in Iranian culture, Simin’s desire for her independence was strong enough to overpower her husband. While she still feels responsible for her family, she leaves them in the care of a nurse whose spiritual identity was so strong that she had to consult with a religious advisor to determine if she could help Nader’s father after soiling himself. While Razieh runs into a number of personal issues with the position (including managing her pregnancy with the regular responsibilities), she loses track of Nader’s father and has to chase him out to the street to bring him back. The fight between Nader’s and Razieh’s precedes the miscarriage, which causes Razieh and her husband to pursue charges. The problem with the case is that Nader knows that a guilty decision would label him a murderer for the death of the unborn child, but Razieh is also afraid to admit to the religious contradictions regarding the care of Nader’s father and her disobedience of her husband.
It is interesting that each of the characters are flawed to a level that makes each of them less likable but still completely engaging. Nader could be commended for the care he had for his father, but his ignorance regarding Razieh’s pregnancy and his constant lying to his daughter and the courts is certainly an interesting challenge. While he could not be completely faulted for it, he still complicates the situation significantly with each additional lie. Simin appears selfish but also never truly leaves home. She clearly still cares for Nader and his father but refuses to recommit to her family. Razieh cannot be blamed for her cautious nature in relation to her religion but she seems to consistently contradict her obligations to her husband and to the truth. While Nader lies about his knowledge of Razieh’s pregnancy, she maintains the biggest lie of Nader’s involvement in the death of her child. Hojjat has a significant temper and let his depression take over his ability to get another job but he at least cares enough for his wife to continue to defend her.
While the story is a little tough to follow at the start, the film includes a strong set of performances and some real human drama that serves as a glimpse into Iranian culture.
Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5