The Past-2013

The Past-2013

Director-Asghar Farhadi

Starring-Berenice Bejo, Tahar Rahim

Scott’s Review #171


Reviewed September 16, 2014

Grade: B+

The Past is an international film directed by acclaimed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who directed the brilliant A Separation in 2012. Despite being directed by an Iranian director the film is spoken in French and set in France.

While not quite on the level of A Separation, The Past is still a very good, layered, and quite compelling film, though admittedly slow-paced in spots, which is similar to real life.

The film centers on a couple, Marie and Ahmad, amid a divorce. Marie lives in France with her two daughters from a relationship before Ahmad so therefore they have no children together. He lives in Iran and comes to visit and finalize the divorce proceedings.

Further complicating the situation is that Marie is in a relationship with another man, Samir, who has a son by his current wife, who is a vegetable in a coma after a suicide attempt. What were the events that led her to attempt suicide? Did someone reveal something of importance to her? If so, who?

Questions such as these compel viewers to invest in the characters. The Past is an excellent family drama done right- there are no needless stereotypes and the children serve more of a purpose than being cute or attractive wallpaper like in many family dramas.

Each child involved- there are 3- has real feelings and realistically expresses themselves. All three principal adult characters are mature, complicated, and have depth. Nobody is the villain and the intent is not to make the audience root for one couple over the other- the film is more mysterious than that. Rather, the audience spends the film trying to figure out the secrets that each character keeps.

Is Marie ready to divorce Ahmad or does she still love him? Does Samir blame Marie for his wife’s condition? Why does the oldest daughter hate Samir so much?

These are questions that arise more and more as The Past unfolds.

Another interesting facet of the film is there are no red herrings introduced to manipulate the viewer. The film is simply a detailed, complex drama.

All three leads (Berenice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, and Ali Mosaffa) give wonderful performances, though I’m not sure why Bejo’s performance is considered the standout.

Upon completion and thought, I noticed many similarities to A Separation.

The Past is a good, solid, family drama, with rich writing and honest, compelling situations.

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