Having expectations is always a risk. This is the drama from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and I loved his last two features – A Separation and The Past. He builds a great story, showing us contemporary Iranian life through the eyes of engaging and totally believable characters.
Emad and Rana are a married couple who are both appearing in a production of The Death of a Salesman. The film begins with drama as they are forced to flee their apartment building, which is in danger of collapsing. In their new apartment, their casual, creative life is upended when an intruder attacks Rana. The repercussions begin to unravel everything they took for granted. Rana struggles to cope and Emad is caught between wounded pride and anger at his powerlessness to help her.
I suspect there are some parallels in the story with The Death of a Salesman. We see parts of different scenes that allow the characters to confront each other. Emad plays Willy Loman, Rana, Willy’s wife Linda and my understanding of the play is that Willy represents a man who has ideals that he is never able to achieve. Those around him help build that fiction but ultimately he gives up, ignoring all that he has in his despair at what he does not have. You will see the connection to this in the final scenes but, for me, it took a little too long to get there.
Everything about this film is good – solid and believable acting, particularly from Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti as Emad and Rana, well-built characterisation, a narrative that is not always obvious but seems realistic. All good, but it lacked the emotional punch of Farhadi’s earlier films for me. An expectation not quite met.
Bechdel test – pass