It is a rigorously honest movie about the difficulties of being honest, a film that tries to be truthful about the slipperiness of truth.
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Sophisticated and universal yet deeply intimate, A Separation is an exquisitely conceived family drama that has the coiled power of a top-notch thriller.
It's a frantic microcosm of life itself.
What's fascinating is how the various issues - religious or practical - are played out in these two quite different families, yet always come down to irreconcilable differences between rebellious women and their stiff-necked, controlling men.
The members of the cast represent ensemble, naturalistic acting at its finest.
Together and apart, Hatami and Maadi are magnetic. Hatami, a star in Iranian cinema, lets us see Simin's intelligence and defiant sense of self-worth often with nothing more than a gesture.
The drama it might remind you most of, oddly enough, is "Six Degrees of Separation," also about the snowballing connections between unlikely people. And as in that urban clash, the bedrock of it all is social responsibility, ever crumbling and rebuilding. A total triumph.
Barriers both transparent and persistently present encase the characters of A Separation, constricting them in ways social, cultural, religious, familial, and emotional.
A Separation is a landmark film. No way will you be able to get it out of your head.
Beyond the impeccable performances and direction, it's foremost an exceptional piece of screenwriting, so finely wrought that the drama seems guided by an invisible hand.