A Separation

By: Peter Bradshaw (guardian.co.uk)

A family at war … A Separation.

An unhappily married couple break up in this complex, painful, fascinating Iranian drama by writer-director Asghar Farhadi, with explosive results that expose a network of personal and social faultlines. A Separation is a portrait of a fractured relationship and an examination of theocracy, domestic rule and the politics of sex and class – and it reveals a terrible, pervasive sadness that seems to well up through the asphalt and the brickwork. In its depiction of national alienation in Iran, it’s comparable to the work of Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof. But there is a distinct western strand. The film shows a middle-class household under siege from an angry outsider; there are semi-unsolved mysteries, angry confrontations and family burdens: an ageing parent and two children from warring camps appearing to make friends. All these things surely show the influence of Michael Haneke’s 2005 film Hidden. Farhadi, like Haneke, takes a scalpel to his bourgeois homeland.

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Still Walking – Roger Ebert

A composition similar to Ozu, in “Still Walking.”

Most family dramas contain too much drama. In most families, the past and present don’t meet and find resolution during a 24-hour period, no matter how many American films you’ve seen about Thanksgiving. Painful family issues are more likely to stay beneath the surface, known to everyone but not spoken of. “Still Walking,” a magnificent new film from Japan, is very wise about that, and very true.

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