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
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
- 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
- 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
- A Separation
- The Salesman
- The Past
- Everybody Knows
- Fireworks Wednesday
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
A separation is brilliantly written, brilliantly acted and explores themes greatly. I’ve also said multiple times on this website that it does feature some incredible visuals and I’m glad you mention that too. There are several moments from the film that form really beautiful screenshots.
@Azman– thanks for the comment. Yes- you have been a champion for A Separation. I wish you had been specific with the visual storytelling — specifically Farhadi using structures and obstructions between the family members like we have above (if you said it, I missed it and dearly apologize). I’ll be the first to admit I have missed that with my first two viewings in 2012– really look forward to the next rewatch and a closer examination.
Haha. I had specifically talked(to Cinephile) about the obstructions between family members and I had referred to the shot at the end (that you have on this page).
Another shot I really liked was the repeated shot of the parent-child crying. It happens with Nader and his father (when he is bathing his father) and it happens twice with Simin and her daughter(on the bed I think). This shot seems to be repeated as it shows the audience about the separation and how it affects the everyone involved in the family. Its a nice bit of visual repetition 2 or 3 times. It explores themes of separations well.
It would be much easier if I could show you all the shots since it can be hard to describe. Im sorry about that.
What aspect did you like the most about the movie? Was the acting? Was it the visual storytelling? I’m interested to know your opinion.
In the 1st paragraph of my comment above, I was talking about obstructions and especially the ending shot of the movie.
I just realised that director hadn’t used music all throughout A Separation until the very end. What do you think of his decision not to use any music? Lumet’s films often had no music for realism. For A separation, I think it not using music adds realism and works better with the style of the film. It makes the end a bit better with the soundtrack playing right at the end. What do you think?
@Azman- I think not using music adds to the realism- agreed. Smart choice by Farhadi.
I was under the assumption the strength of the film was the narrative, writing and acting… but as I said above- these shots here on the page give me pause (and yet another reason I love doing these pages and researching these directors and films)- and I’m excited to see it again- hopefully soon.
@Azman- I remember you mentioning the repeated shot of the parent-child crying— but not the obstruction/divide between them physically. I looked on the 2010’s top 100 page where you had the exchange with Cinephile- but again- I may have missed it. Sorry.
I had multiple exchanges with Cinephile not just on the 2010s page but on multiple pages. However this was a long time ago and I dont remeber the page but I remember commenting about it for sure.
Did you see Pale flower yet or is it still on your watchlist? I watched it again and I thought it was even better than before. I’m certain you’ll enjoy it when you get it to it.
Another Japansese movie you may get to soon is Kurosawas Red beard. I think you’ll like that too haha
@Azman– not sure on Pale Flower. Hopefully soon. Red Beard is next in the Kurosawa study.
Finally, have time to post my impressions from Farhadi study. Overall, I did 7 studies this year, and enjoyed all of them. But this one was my favorite.
What I especially loved about his movies that they feel universal and feel authentic and strangely familiar despite having a lot of details specific to Iranian society.
His main strength is screenwriting. The structure of the screenplays and the way his stories unfold is just masterful. But he is no slouch in the directorial department (I would place him several slots higher, but nothing dramatic, I think his placement is fair), who is especially strong with casting and performance control.
His visual style is quite and naturalistic, with rare emphasis on some moments. I haven’t noticed some specific cinematic tools, but if I’m not mistaken, he doesn’t use music at all (except opening and closing credits).
A Separation – MS/MP
About Elly – MS
The Past – MS
Fireworks Wednesday – HR
Beautiful City – HR
The Salesman- R
Everybody Knows – Fringe recommendation. Closer to missing archives.
Dancing in the Dust – Not in archives. Raw around edges. For completists only.
@Mad Mike- Awesome work here- thanks for sharing
Love your analyses here! Have you had a chance to see About Elly or A Hero yet?
1. A Separation
2. About Elly
3. A Hero
would be my top three, now.
Unrelatedly, are you not a fan of Nuri Bilge Ceylan? I don’t see him or his movies on your site.
@Sean- No on About Elly- I have not had the chance to see it for some reason. I have seen A Hero- a page for it and mentioned a few times on the 2021 summary page. http://thecinemaarchives.com/2022/04/02/a-hero-2021-farhadi/ and http://thecinemaarchives.com/2022/04/01/2021/
As for Ceylan- I have four films in the archives (below_ but no mentions on a decade top 100 or yearly top 10.
2011- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
2014- Winter Sleep
Awesome! Thanks for sharing and great work, as always!