A Separation (2011) and Asghar Farhadi’s Films

January 27, 2012

A Separation (2011) that won Golden Globe 2012, and is nominated for Oscar 2012, is like other Farhadi’s films, that means : “It’s not a bad film; and it’s not a good film”. After watching “A Separation”, that its full title is “Separation of Nader and Simin” or “Nader and Simin, A Separation”, I can say this film has many stupid problems, specially in cinematography, acting, and self-censorship. It would have been better if the previous films of Farhadi, specially About Elly (2009), or his best film Fireworks Wednesday (2006) , had won Golden Globe or Oscar, not “A Separation”. I watched ‘About Elly’ again, and it was really better than “A Separation”. I watched the first serious film of Farhadi, “Fireworks Wednesday” (Chaarshanbe Soori) again, and I think “A Separation” is a weaker version of this film. I give “A Separation” 6/10, “Fireworks Wednesday” 7/10, and “About Elly” 7/10 (only for its first 30 minutes that has some great scenes). If you want to understand how bad cinematography or acting is in “A Separation”, you can compare it with “Fireworks Wednesday”, that was a better version of “A Separation”, or with “About Elly”. The suspension in “Fireworks Wednesday” was a little weaker than “A Separation”, but other things, like the subject (marital infidelity), cinematography, acting, etc were better than “A Separation”. And “About Elly” had some great scenes. If you want to watch a film about today’s Iran and the majority of Iranians, who are young and modern, you should watch ‘About Elly’. Of course, Iranian filmmakers, including Asghar Farhadi, can’t show many parts of the real life in Iran, because the Mullahs don’t allow them and censor their works, but even those parts that Farhadi shows in his films, specially in “About Elly”, can be very interesting for the outside world. Iranian filmmakers, including Farhadi, can’t show women without Hijab, while the Iranian women have not Hijab in their private life and inside their homes. Iranian filmmakers can’t show many normal relationships between men and women, and many other common things in Iran, and also many problems in the society, because the Mullahs don’t allow them. So, what you see in the Iranian films is a censored version of “Reality”. Iranians and their private lives are much more modern and funnier than what you see in the Iranian films. But even this limited and censored image, shocks and surprises many non-Iranians. Some say: “There are many misconceptions about the Iranian society, and in particular about the role of women in the private life. But in today’s Iran, the women are empowered. Sepideh who’s treated as the matriarch of the group, and all other women in “About Elly” are real women in today’s Iran. The women speak freely and express their opinions, and have their votes considered when deciding for the group as a whole. The men and women dance, laugh, and are happy with each other, and it’s part of the ordinary life in Iran”. What you can see in “About Elly” and “A Separation” are the middle-class or average Iranians, and in “Fireworks Wednesday” you can see the lower class and the middle class. In “A Separation”, Fardahi is more conservative, and his self-censorship annoys many Iranians inside Iran. But even in “A Separation”, Farhadi doesn’t tell big shameful lies, and you can’t say what you see is unreal. “Fireworks Wednesday” is better than “A Separation”, and Farhadi is less conservative in “Fireworks Wednesday” and has less self-censorship. What you can see in Farhadi’s films is today’s Iran, a modern country with modern people and modern problems, and of course with a medieval regime, a dreadful tyranny, and its related problems.


The main weak point of “A Separation” is its stupid cinematography. When you watch this film (for the first time), you can’t stop using bad language about Kalari, the stupid cinematographer of this film. Camera shake that occurs during hand held shooting is so horrible in this film. In the recent years, ‘hand held shooting’ or ‘hand held camera’ has become a fashion in Iran, and many stupid cinematographers often use this technique, and give the viewers horrible headache. I don’t know why camera movements/ angles are so stupid in this film. The shaky camera kills you. The stupid Kalari has shit on the whole film. Even compared to “Fireworks Wednesday” or “About Elly”, camera art in “A Separation” is so horrible. I’m not a filmmaker or an expert, but like those who have watched many films and have learned something, I just compare this film to other films that I love them. Iranian filmmakers should forget “Hand-held camera”, they use it so badly. I don’t know why Farhadi has used a lot of “Medium Shot” and “Close-Up” in this film. I don’t know why he doesn’t allow the people to see Tehran and both its beauty and its ugliness. Some say: “Although an audience’s attention may be focused on characters in the foreground, they will also be looking at the background for additional clues/ information. Let the people, specially the future generations and non-Iranians who know nothing about Iran, see the background. Let the people see the streets and the city and the social life in the background, for god sake“. In “A Separation”, only in very a few scenes you see nice shots of streets or city. if this film had have more nice shots, it would have been a good film. But unfortunately, almost all shots are so stupid and you can’t see anything expect the actors and camera shake ! I don’t know why Farhadi has forgotten color and music. Some of stupid fans of Farhadi say: “Without even a single note of music, Farhadi makes great films”. But its so stupid. Why Farhadi doesn’t use any music in his films? In ‘About Elly’, we don’t hear any music, while this film could have a very nice music, specially natural music in the cars or when they want to dance, or when they are scared or exhausted, etc. It’s a great weak point for Fardai. Of course, I know that the savage Mullahs censors the good music, but Farhadi doesn’t use any music, even legal or classic music, in his films. If ‘A Separation’ had not have the stupid ‘shaky camera’ and many stupid ‘Medium Shot’, and instead, if it had have many good ‘Wide-angle shot’, ‘Long Shot’, ‘Extreme Long Shot’, etc, and if we had been able to see Tehran, its streets, its people, its social life, etc in the background, then this film would become a good film. “Fireworks Wednesday” was a better film, because it had a little good music, a little nice shots of Tehran and streets, etc. In 2006, we thought: “Oh, it’s his first serious film. In his next films he will be better”. But apparently, Farhadi wants to go backward, instead of going forward! When you see Woody Allen’s films, you can see New York or Manhattan. He makes film about the human relationship and the domestic life, but he shows you many things about New York or Manhattan, too. And his nice shots give you good feeling and also good information. It’s what Farhadi and many other Iranians filmmakers forget it. “A Separation” should show us Tehran and the streets and many other things in the background, but it doesn’t show us anything. But in “Fireworks Wednesday” we can see more things in background, and we can see more nice shots. Farhadi should go forward, but form “Fireworks Wednesday” to “A Separation” he has gone backward.


The other weak points of Farhadi and his films are “set designing” and choosing the locations. “About Elly” and its stories happen in “Shomal”, the north Iran, that we have already written about it. But we don’t see Shomal in “About Elly”. Farhadi doesn’t show us the beauty of Shomal, while Iranians just go to Shomal to see its natural beauty. But Farhadi just shows us a very stupid ruined villa and the shores of the Caspian Sea, that we have already written about its horrible problems. What Farhadi shows us is not real Shomal. He could tell his stories, and at the same time he could show us Shomal and its beauty, and it this way, “About Elly” would have become a good film. Many Iranian filmmakers stupidly think that dirty shots and dirty scenes mean “art” ! But the nice shots and nice scenes are art. In the films that are about the social problems and the reality, like Farhadi’s films, you should show the real things, both the beauty and the ugliness, in the nice shots. In ‘About Elly’, we can’t see Shomal as Iranians see it in their trips. Farhadi just shows us a few nice shots, and other shots and other things are dirty and stupid. We don’t see both the beauties and the environmental disasters of Shomal. We just see stupid things, not reality. The actors and their performance in “About Elly” and “Fireworks Wednesday” were good or even great, while the acting in “A Separation” was not good. In “A Separation”, only Razieh (Sareh Bayat) was good, and Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), Razieh’s daughter (little girl), Nader’s father, and the judge were not bad. But others were not good. In “About Elly”, the casting and assigning the roles to the actors was so stupid. The forty-something man and twenty-something wife, or vice versa, was so stupid, specially when you say they were classmate. As some experts say, in “A Separation” the Mise En Scène (‘putting things in the picture’ or ‘arranging the frame’ that concerns the design and arrangement of the image) were stupid. Color is an important part of mise-en-scene in that it creates mood and atmosphere, but colors, and also Lighting, Framing, Shooting, etc are not good in this film. In Iran, more that 500,000 people went to cinema and watched this film. As we said before, the people have boycotted the Mullah cinema, and the average number of viewers of an Iranian films in the recent years is about 50,000. Those few people who go to cinema, want to see comic scenes and laugh, while “A Separation” was dark and tragic. I think the people were very very kind to Farhadi. I hope Farhadi will not disappoint the people, and defends them in the Oscar’s night. Many average Iranians like “About Elly” more than “A Separation”, because “About Elly” is a fun-filled drama of family and friends, and only 50% of it is dark and tragic. It had no Happy End. It had a Tragic End, but the people liked it because of its first 30 to 45 minutes. It’s so obvious that in Iran, that is full of horrible tragic things, the people badly need to be happy and laugh, and they don’t want to be sad and cry, at least when they watch film. It’s better if Iranian filmmakers and Farhadi can make more films like “Fireworks Wednesday” or “About Elly”, specially like its first 30 minutes that can make people happy. In “Fireworks Wednesday”, Rouhi, a young lower class girl, finds herself in the midst of a domestic dispute between a couple of middle class upwards. Mojdeh suspects that her husband is having an affair with with a woman (hairdresser) next door. She feels cheated and isolated and on the eve of their departure to another country. She is having a total breakdown. “Fireworks Wednesday” is not a fun-filled film like the first 45 minutes of “About Elly”, and is not as dark and tragic as “A Separation” or the last 60 minutes of “About Elly”, but in this film Farhadi is less conservative and shows many problems in today’s Iran, without torturing you, and it’s good. Of course, some Iranians say: “In this film, the ancient tradition of Persians, Chaharshanbe soori (“Fireworks Wednesday” or “Wednesday Feast” that we have already written about it [check Archive]), has been shown like a dangerous street riot throughout the film and the sound of explosions is heard in all scenes. Is this really all we have in “Chaharshanbe soori”?” No, it’s not all we have in Chaharshanbe soori. It’s not the whole truth, but many problems that Farhadi shows in this film are real problems.


The non-Iranians don’t know which parts of the life in “A Separation” is real and which parts are unreal. As we said before, Farhadi doesn’t tell big shameful lies in this film, but he has some stupid big mistakes in this film. For example, many think (and many non-Iranian film critics say) that Simin and Nadar are a couple of middle-class upwards ! But it’s totally wrong. Simin and Nadar are average people, like 80% of Iranians who live in the cities. Nadar works in a bank, that it’s a low level job in Iran. Some funny Iranians say: “When you can’t find any other work in Iran, you go to a bank and work for it” And Simin is a teacher, and it’s a common job in Iran. Some funny Iranians say: “The majority of young Iranians are university-educated people, and when they can’t find a proper job, they prefer to become teacher”. So, Simin and Nadar are a couple of middle-class downwards, not upwards. But some stupid dialogue in this film, about the rich and the poor, create misconception for non-Iranians. Rouhi in “Fireworks Wednesday” is a member of lower class, while Hodjat and Razieh (in “A Separation”) are not a couple of lower class, but they are poor middle-class. They have not any difference with Nader and Simin, and it’s a reality in Iran. Both Hodjat and Razieh are literate and modern (conservative), and Hodjat’s dialogue about the poor and the rich, is unreal. In fact, Nader, Simin, Hodjat, Razieh, and the teacher are members of the same social class in Iran, and I think what Hodjat says is what Farhadi wants to say to the outside world. For instance, when Hodjat says: ‘Why do you think we are animal or live like animals?’ it’s what Hodjat says to the outside world, not to Iranians. Hodjat has been bankrupted and that’s why he is so poor, but as a shoe-maker and a businessman in Bazaar, he and his friends earn more money than Simin, Nadar, and the teacher, and are richer than them !! It’s what the non-Iranians should know about this film. In fact, Razieh can become a teacher or work in a bank, and Hodjat can embezzle money or can earn good money by dirty tricks, and can become a member of upper class in Iran. It’s what often happens in today’s Iran ! Hodjat has enough potential to become a crook and embezzler, or a Basiji thug. He can earn good money. Many businessmen in Iran, earn money in this way. Anyway, I don’t know why Farhadi shows “electric fan” in Nader’s house, while it belongs to 30 years ago, not today. It’s stupid and unreal. And about “telling lie” as a social problem, we know that Iranians tell more lies, more than what Farhadi shows us in “A Separation”. Of course, Nader and his daughter and the people who hate telling lie, exist in Iran, but they are not in majority. “Fireworks Wednesday” is a better film about the problem of “telling lie” in Iran, and what you see in “Fireworks Wednesday” is the reality, and what the majority of Iranians do or see in their life. And about film’s title, some funny Iranians say: “Why the name of this film is ‘Nader and Simin, A Separation’, while this film is about Razieh and Nader” Anyway, despite all stupid mistakes, “A Separation” shows many true things. For example, about the daily life, or the role of women in the family. Iranians are not like Arabs, and even a very conservative religious woman like Razieh is not like Arabs. It’s very important. Razieh is a symbol of very conservative religious people in Iran, but even Razieh is not as stupid as the Arabs. Hodjat seems so stupid, but he is not idiot, and it’s the reality of today’s Iran. Nader is an ordinary man and a good guy that cares about his daughter and his family, even more than Simin who is the mother, and it’s part of the reality of today’s Iran. Nader or Simin are not in the majority in Iran and the world, but you can find many people like them in Iran and the world. Just some stupid Iranian expats and some stupid Americans can say: “Nader is a perfect man, but Where in the world do we find such ethereal men? In the middle east? I think not! How contradictory to reality! ” These stupid bastards know nothing about today’s Iran. The mass media have brainwashed them, and these stupid bastards can’t see how modern today’s Iranians are. And I think that’s why Farhadi put some special dialogue in Hodjat’s mouth (“Why do you think we live like animals?”). The non-Iranians know nothing about Iran and Iranians, and that’s why the Iranian filmmakers should try to show the Iran’s reality to the outside world.


In the imdb.com, you can find some funny user comments about A Separation: “from Netherlands: Caught A Separation in Amsterdam last night, fully unprepared for its greatness. I hadn’t been swept off my feet for a while, but this Iranian Hitchcockian drama sucked us in for 2 hours and left us very, very impressed … from Stockholm, Sweden: And it comes from Iran. The first thing you read on the screen is ‘In the name of God’. Well, anyway it’s the best story, the best cutting, the best actors you’ve seen for long … from UK: this is one of the most heart breaking and real movies I have seen this year. you can not leave the movie for even 1 second and characters are such real ones that you start to put yourself in their position and think what would I do?” Unfortunately, the majority of the people in the West and the outside world have horrible misconceptions about Iran and Iranians. They don’t know there are many serious differences between the Iran’s regime and the Iran’s people, and between the private life and the public life in Iran. As we said before, the Mullahs and their thugs have occupied Iran, and now Iran is an occupied land. As we said before, Iran or Persia with more than 15,000 years history of civilization, is one of the main cradles of civilization in the world. The root of the culture and many other things in the West is Iran (Persia). And the majority of Iranians are not like the Mullahs and the Islamists. “About Elly” is really better than “A Separation”, and if you want to see an acceptable film about today’s Iran, you can see “About Elly”. The non-Iranians say: “The first thing you read on the screen is ‘In the name of God'” or “the Iranian women have Hejab (the veil) even in their homes”. But its what the Mullahs have imposed on the Iranian filmmakers. Many stupid things that you see in the Iranian films are result of the Mullah censorship and self-censorship, or what the Mullahs have imposed on the filmmakers. Inside their own houses, and in their private life, Iranians have not any difference with the people in the West, but the Iranian filmmakers are not allowed to show this fact. The conditions of the public life, for instance in the Iranian hospitals and the Iranian courts, are so horrible, more than what you see in “A Separation”. The Mullahs have destroyed many things in Iran. In the real life, Nader and Simin would talk about the horrible conditions in the stupid Islamic courts, the detentions, the hospitals, etc. But in this film, you don’t see the reality. In the real life, the courts, the judge, the soldiers, etc are not as kind as what Farhadi shows us. The bribery and horrible corruption is what Farhadi doesn’t show us. In the real life, Nader, after going to the detention and the court, would decide to leave Iran as soon as possible ! But in this film you can’t see the reality. Some funny Iranians say: “In Iran, you should always pray to God and ask him that you don’t go to any court or any hospital in Iran”. The situation in the courts and the hospitals is really so horrible. But the Mullahs don’t allow the filmmakers to show the real social problems. The dirty and stupid state buildings, the rude and stupid judges, soldiers, nurses, etc, in addition to the widespread corruption, are part of the public life in Iran. It’s what the Mullahs have created it and want to hide it. Farhadi doesn’t tell you why Simin want to leave Iran, while it’s very important. Farhadi doesn’t tell the truth about many things, because the Mullahs don’t allow it. This level of self-censorship and conservativeness in “A Separation” annoys many Iranians. It’s so ridiculous that Farhadi deliberately doesn’t talk about many serious issues. Farhadi just try to avoid telling big shameful lies, but even this level of self-censorship has made the savage Mullahs angry. Anyway, If you want to see a better version of “A Separation”, you should watch “Fireworks Wednesday”. And if you want to watch a good film about today’s Iranians, you should watch the first 30 minutes of “About Elly”.