Release Date: Feb. 10, 2012
Running Time: 123 minutes
There are two sides to the story told in Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s tense legal drama, A Separation. Who to believe? A pregnant caretake (Sareh Bayat) who alleges her miscarriage is the direct result of her angry employer pushing her down a flight of stairs? Or the accused (Peyman Moaadi), who wants nothing more than for his estranged wife and confused daughter to believe he is innocent? This much we witness: on the day of Bayat’s fall, Moaddi arrives at his apartment with his 11-year-daughter to find the caretaker absent and his Alzheimer’s-addled father alone and in jeopardy. Moaddi and Bayat exchange words, but Farhadi doesn’t show us whether Bayat falls or is pushed by Moaddi. When the alleged assault goes to trial, and Bayat’s volatile husband demands justice, Farhadi forces us to view both parties with equal suspicion and to constantly require us to change loyalties as the truth slowly comes out. A Separation employs this “he said, she said” showdown to examine the inequality women face in an Islamic republic such as Iran. The war of words also serves as a means for Farhadi to shed light on the occasionally strange and unjust way the Iranian legal system works. A Separation is never more emotionally wrenching than when it dissects how the trial, and the secrets that inevitably come out, impact the two families involved. For all the difficult moments to be found in A Separation, none are more uncomfortable than the scenes that emphasize eroding trust between each married couple or that find the children being reluctantly dragged into the proceedings. Ultimately, Farhadi asks us to pass judgment on Moaddi and Bayat for their actions, which is only fitting for a courtroom drama that is less concerned about an alleged crime than the lies we employ to conceal the painful truth from the ones we love.
Aired: Feb. 9, 2012
Web site: http://www.sonyclassics.com/aseparation/