Farhadi. I have five films in the archives already for Farhadi and I have yet to see his second highest rated film: About Elly (2009). There is absolutely a uniformity here in the realistic dramas told by Farhadi. These are well-acted stories of individuals, families, or children hurt by unjust laws, their own history, rumor, social institutions, and/or secrecy. I can’t call him a style-plus director, so his strength is the filmography and authorship—but these visuals for A Separation here give me a little pause- certainly they have to be compared to Antonioni’s L’Eclisse– truly stunning.

Best film: A Separation. It works masterfully as both a tight as a drum thriller, and as a realism drama. As good as the rest of his work is- it is easily Farhadi’s finest to date.

total archiveable films: 5

top 100 films:  0

top 500 films:  0

top 100 films of the decade:  1 (A Separation)

most overrated: According to the TSPDT consensus there is a very wide gap between A Separation and the rest of the oeuvre for Farhadi. They have A Separation at #375 of all-time— very high for a film from the 2010’s. It is second for 2011 behind only Tree of Life which puts it ahead of Melancholia and The Turin Horse. Though I think highly of A Separation– I’m not there. Nothing else is overrated from Farhadi. The only other film that lands on either the normal TSPDT list or the 21st century top 1000 is About Elly– at #46 for 2009 and I haven’t had a chance to catch it yet.

most underrated :  The Salesman. It is not one of the 38 films from 2016 to land on the TSPDT 21st century list.

  • Narrative brilliance from Farhadi once again with his engrossing moral dramas where awful things happen but it is never one person’s fault
  • Beautiful opening tracking shot both technically brilliant and the metaphor for the building crumbling is spot on and perfect Farhadi
  • Cannes winner for writing and acting -Shahab Hosseini

Beautiful opening tracking shot both technically brilliant and the metaphor for the building crumbling is spot on and perfect Farhadi

gem I want to spotlight :   Everybody Knows. It came and went in 2018 after a big build-up for being the opening night film at Cannes and Farhadi’s first film outside of Iran. It shouldn’t be overlooked just because it didn’t live up to big expectations.

  • A pulpy page-tuner with strong writing and accomplished acting from Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and the rest of the ensemble
  • Class struggle here is real- history—right up Farhadi’s alley even if in another country and language—everyone has baggage
  • Cruz’s husband is religious and that plays a small part as well
  • They do a good job of making every actor look tired—exhausted—works well
  • Nice clock tower scene
  • It’s a moral maze and mouse-trap—Farhadi but it’s also a fascinating “who-done-it” almost like a Gosford Park film with many suspects under the same roof. Farhadi does seem to forget the kidnapped girl entirely for long stretches
  • The fallout and ultimate antagonist feels weak—a minor character, unsupported by the rest of the film and random—it’ll be interesting to see if it stays in the archives but for now there’s enough


stylistic innovations/traits:                             

  • Visual motifs in the crumbling building in The Salesman and the physical divides between the two splitting in A Separation– this is straight up Antonioni in L’Eclisse– really well done

a jaw-dropper from A Separation— using obstructions in the frame to tell the story of a strained relationship…. WKW uses a similar shot in In the Mood For Love

repeated often– this is what Antonioni did so well time and time again with Monica Vitti, and Alain Delon in L’Eclisse

another here- Baumbach’s growth as a visual director had a similar shot  in Marriage Story

  • Farhadi’s is a realist- the Dardenne brothers seem like a apt comparison
  • Riveting narratives
  • Moral dramas- mouse traps– awful things happen but it is never one person’s fault
  • Class and sex – personal stories with proper social/moral scope of the situation and background


top 10

  1. A Separation
  2. The Salesman
  3. The Past
  4. Everybody Knows
  5. Fireworks Wednesday

from Fireworks Wednesday in 2006

By year and grades

2006- Fireworks Wednesday R
2011- A Separation HR
2013- The Past R
2016- The Salesman R/HR
2018- Everybody Knows R


*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives