Top 100 Films Of The 2010’s – #59 – A Separation (2011)

RELEASED: 1st July 2011

DIRECTOR: Asghar Farhadi

CAST: Peyman Moaadi, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Shahab Hosseini, Kimia Hosseini, Merila Zarei, Babak Karimi, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh and Ali-Asghar Shahbazi

BUDGET: $0.8m


AWARDS: 1 Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film) and 1 Golden Globe (Best Foreign Language Film)

A married couple are faced with a difficult decision – to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer’s disease.


A Separation takes place in Tehran, Iran, where Simin files for divorce from her husband Nader. They have been married for 12 years and live with their 11-year-old daughter Termeh. When Simin wants to leave the country with them as she doesn’t want her daughter to grow up under the prevailing conditions, Nader does not as he is concerned for his elder father who lives with them and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. When Nader hires a deeply religious woman named Razieh to take care of her father while he works leads to disastrous consequences for everyone involved.


A Separation is the 2011 Iranian drama from Asghar Farhadi that won the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Academy Awards the following year. We witness the end of a marriage between Simin and Nader, but the problem is that the family court judge finds their reasons for divorce to be insufficient, so he rejects Simin’s application. These leads to Simin moving out to live with her parents and their daughter, Termeh, being caught in the middle as she wants to stay with her father while Simin wants her to come with her. While this story is pivotal to the overall arc of the journey of Simin and Nader and, while we, like Termeh, hope that the two can resolve their differences, the narrative of the film is complicated with the introduction of Razieh, a religious woman that’s hired to take care of Nader’s father, who may be out of her depth when it comes to taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s. A particular event leads to a manslaughter case that inflicts more tension and strain in Simin and Nader’s marriage, with Termeh becoming more confused as to why her father tells lies to the judge. Asghar Farhadi, who also wrote the screenplay, expresses empathy here for all the main characters involved, as we get everything from their point of view, but there’s always a key piece of information that’s being kept from the other. Another thing it does well is look at the Iranian justice system and how religion plays a factor within the letter of the law in a modern day Iran, giving us an insight to how these complex issues such as divorce and accusation of manslaughter are handled in court, dealing with the issues without lawyers and a judge that tries to act fairly whilst having to work within the confides of the law. The film is written and directed superbly by Farhadi, with the cinematography work by Mahmoud Kalari also great here, as are the performances in the film from Peyman Moaadi and Leila Hatami in particular, as well as the ensemble as their performances feel authentic to the point that you’re completely immersed in the story, with your opinion on whose side your on flip-flopping over the course of the film.


FAVOURITE SCENE: As we reach the supposed climatic conclusion, with Nader making a settlement with Razieh, he asks for one favour in return….she must swear on the Qur’an that he was the cause of her miscarriage.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “What is wrong is wrong, no matter who said it or where it’s written.” – Nader

DID YOU KNOW: Director Asghar Farhadi’s first idea for the movie was the image of a man washing his father, who had Alzheimer’s. He built the rest of the film around that scene.

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