New from The Movie Snob
A Separation (B). This Iranian movie has gotten universal acclaim (Metacritic score: 95/100), so I made a special effort to see it in the theater. It is the story of a failing marriage in an anonymous city in modern Iran. The opening scene is in a divorce court, and the wife is seeking a divorce because her husband won’t emigrate with her, even though it has taken 18 months to get an exit visa that will expire very soon. The husband won’t consent to the divorce and won’t leave the country because he is taking care of his Alzheimer’s-stricken father. Result: divorce denied. The wife then leaves her husband and their roughly 12-year-old daughter and moves back in with her folks. The repercussions from this decision quickly escalate as the husband has to hire someone to look after his father while he is at work, and things start to fall apart. It’s a decent movie, but I found it more interesting than engrossing. Some things were missing that I might have expected to see — minarets, frequent calls to prayer by muezzins, some hint of military tension. But there were lots of things that are strange to Western sensibilities. There’s apparently a religion hotline that you can call anytime with your questions about Islam (like, can a woman help clean up an unrelated elderly Alzheimer’s-stricken man who has soiled himself?). There’s an interesting look at the Iranian justice system as various characters start to accuse each other of various crimes. And, less surprisingly, it seems that religious obligation and family honor are generally taken much more seriously there than here. The central question of what would happen to the couple at the center of the movie never really captured my imagination, but I still found the film an interesting experience.