Saturday, April 7, 2012

[Review] A Separation

Weird. The entry I saved as a draft on my IPhone blogger app is gone.

Anyway, to cut that long entry short, A Separation is a must see film. I highly recommend it. It's not artsy-fartsy in the sense that it thrives in vagueness, ambiguity and thought provocation as you go along the film. It's drama. It's real and possible. Not like the drama I grew accustomed to seeing in the Philippines both in the TV and theaters. It's not far fetched drama. Although the story is 'just' okay (in the sense that it's simple), but how the story was told and the decisions taken to capture the story through the camera are amazingly executed.

I was gripped by curiosity and drama that was unfolding before my eyes. It was a film whereby after it ended, only then did I review scenes in my head and went oohh and ahhh. The details in the plot were nicely woven together. I have to admit though, I wasn't expecting the ending. Only at the ending did the film turn the artsy-fartsy route. Yes. It's open ended.

That final scene of the film was what blew me away.

Note: If you haven't seen the film - [SPOILER TO COME]

The final scene of the movie stretches for an eternity in 'silence.'

To explain a bit, the movie starts off with a discussion on the matter of divorce between the lead actress and lead actor (hereby known as wife and husband)*. The wife is filing for divorce because the husband doesn't want his family to leave Iran because his father has Alzheimer's and there is no one else who can and will take care of his father. I assumed that it is the US where the wife plans to leave off to. The divorce is denied by the judge because of the lack of grounds for it to be approved. The wife insists that it is the welfare of her daughter she is concerned about. She feels that prosperity and a brighter future resides elsewhere outside Iran.

That starting scene showed both wife and husband side by side facing the camera (shown to be as if we are looking through the perspective of the judge). It showed them arguing and raising their voice.

Fast forward to the ending I mentioned where, they are along the justice department's corridor. To settle their difference as the divorce was not approved, they let their daughter decide with whome she would want to live with. It is assumed that it's not going to be a joint custody since if she decides to be with her mom, they leave Iran, while if she decides to stay with her dad, then her mom leaves for the US.

Back tracking a bit to the story that unfolded, the daughter, after the mom left the house to stay with her parents since she could no longer stand to live with her husband, decided to stay with her dad. The reason being that she wanted to help out her dad take care of her grandfather with Alzheimer's. It wasn't stated early on, but it's quite obvious that she was staying put so that her parents may be able to settle their differences.

Introduce the conflict in the form of a helper who had a miscarriage and is accusing the husband of being the cause because she was pushed. (blah blah blah - no spoilers). During the course of the conflict build up and resolution, we find how the daughter may not decide to stay her dad after all after she was made to lie and do things that were not really her will. Add to that the promises that were broken by her dad.

The last scene along a corridor. On the left side behind a glass panel is the wife, on the right side in front of the glass panel is the husband. They are both waiting by the corridor for their daughter's decision on who between the two of them has she chosen. Originally they were both in the room, but the daughter asked the judge if she could tell her answer without her parents in the room.

I have to admit, my first thought after seeing the credits roll on the screen while both parents still sat in the corridor was "WTF?!" I wasnt expecting it to be open ended. I waited longer to see if there was a clincher by the end but there was none.

I was blown away by the beauty of the shot and the idea behind it. It is sad for both the parents to let the daughter decide which of them to choose. The metaphor I got from that scene was how slow time must have been for both the parents waiting outside. It is sad that it had to come to that.

There's more I could rave for here like the silent strength of the wife shown through the film, and the practical but stubborn nature of the husband. It makes you wonder how they could have grown apart.

*I forgot the names of the characters already, and I'm feeling too lazy to actually research.

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