Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Salesman

(Iran, France, 2016)

This was directed by Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian. It tells the story of a man and woman forced to move from their Tehran apartment because … it is collapsing! It never totally falls down, but has huge cracks and is clearly untenable. So they end up in a much worse apartment. It turns out the place was previously the home and place of business of something that’s not supposed to exist: an Iranian whore. Then one day one of her clients drops by, thinking the whore is still there. He catches the wife in the shower, and assaults her, leaving her unconscious and bleeding badly. Whether or not she was raped is never clearly established. But she suffers severely from PTSD.

It takes him a while, but eventually the husband decides he can’t tolerate this situation. I was afraid he would take it out on the wife, but no, he sets out to find the attacker. This is tough, because she never saw his face. He has few clues, but he is dogged, and eventually tracks the motherfucker down … and his identity is surprising. So is his wife’s reaction. This is a very good study of vengeance, which I am in favor of (I’m not much of a “God forgives you, so I do, too, sort of guy)… most of the time. But it’s not always a good idea, not always possible, and not always morally acceptable.

A companion story line that makes this even better is that they are both actors, involved in a production of Death of Salesman. Some scenes become more meaningful to them, and it both hinders and enhances their performances. The production is on a wonderful set, and very well done. Somehow, I had never imagined Arthur Miller performed in Farsi! Of course, a few problematic scenes had to be censored by the fucking religious police. Poor Iran.

This won awards at Cannes, and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film … which Farhadi was not there for accept. He could have, on a tourist visa, but decided to stay home to protest that motherfucker Trump’s ban on immigration from seven Muslim countries, including Iran. Shame, shame, shame on us. It’s going to take this country a long, long time to live down and hopefully atone for Stupid Donald’s crimes against human decency.