A Separation (aka Jodaeiye Nader az Simin) review by Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
Nader and Simin are a young couple from Tehran, Iran. They’ve decided to migrate to another country with their 11-year-old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi). But the husband Nader (Peyman Ma’adi) has a change of heart; he decides to stay to care for his Alzheimer’s-plagued father and this forces his wife Simin (Leila Hatami) to file for divorce. Simin still wants to leave but she can only do this with Nader’s consent – something he has no plan of giving away.
‘Nader and Simin: A Separation’ catapults the film’s plot with the divorce, Iranian style. In the film we are given an idea on how the courts work in Iran, mostly they speak before a judge and make their case. A great technique the film utilizes is the cast talking directly to camera when they’re supposed to be speaking to a judge. It’s a direct symbolism – we watch them, hence, we are the judge. From there the film moves forward with another issue at hand. As Nader remains in Iran and cares for his ailing father, he hires a young woman, Razieh (Sareh Bayat).
Unbeknownst to Nader, Razieh is ill-equipped to care for an old man, doubtful of what she must do when Nader’s father wets his trousers. Her husband, the hot-headed Hodjat (Shahab Hossein) is not too privy of his wife being in the same household with a married man, without another man present. But Razieh needs the money for her family and hiding her condition – she’s pregnant – she forges on.
The film is surprisingly very succinct in its message: People in Iran are just like us. They have a divide between the middle-class and the impoverished. They go through marriage dissolutions. They have to care for their elderly. But also, people in Iran are not just like us. They have strong ties with their religion to the point of irrationality. They treat women differently; at times oppressive and backwards. In the end, the film is a domestic-legal drama that speaks much in hushed tones.