Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

A Separation

(Jodái-e NáderazSimin, Iran, 2011)

Sometimes, with the very best movies, there’s not a lot I can say other than rather broad generalities. It’s a courtroom drama, but it’s not like any courtroom you’ve ever seen, taking place mostly in drab bureaucratic offices and hallways. Not a bewigged barrister nor flamboyant defense attorney to be seen. The plot is pretty easy to summarize. It concerns a middle-class couple who are at odds about leaving Iran. She wants to leave to give her 10-year-old daughter a better chance in a less restrictive country, he feels he must stay and take care of his senile father. Easy to see both sides of that. She won’t leave without her daughter, so she leaves him and goes to live with her parents. He hires someone to attend to the old man while he’s at work, and eventually she ties him to the bed so she can go out and … well, maybe it is a bit complicated. He is infuriated, shoves the caretaker when she returns, she has a miscarriage. Did he know she was pregnant? Was the miscarriage the result of the fall? That, and many other questions, have no easy or obvious answers. There are no really bad people here, you can see everyone’s point of view, even with the deep cultural differences between this Muslim society and our own. That’s what makes it so special. Everyone lives in moral shades of gray in the real world, unlike so many movies. This one will make you think, and talk it over with others who have seen it. Terrific writing and acting in every part. This movie won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language. I’m sorry to say I haven’t seen any of the other nominees yet, but this is a worthy winner.