A Separation (2011)

Movie


A Separation (2011)
Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (original title)

Nader (Payman Maadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) argue about living abroad. Simin prefers to live abroad to provide better opportunities for their only daughter, Termeh. However, Nader refuses to go because he thinks he must stay in Iran and take care of his father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi), who suffers from Alzheimers. However, Simin is determined to get a divorce and leave the country with her daughter.
Iran
France
Australia
IMDb   8.3 /10
Metacritic   95 %
TheMovieDb    7.9 /10
RottenTomatoes
FilmAffinity   7.7 /10
Creators
Director Asghar Farhadi
Writer Asghar Farhadi
Information
Release Date2011-03-16
Runtime2h 3mins
GenreDrama
Content RatingPG-13 (PG-13)
AwardsTop Rated Movies #111 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 88 wins & 49 nominations.
CompanyAsghar Farhadi Productions, Dreamlab Films, MPA APSA Academy Film Fund
CountryIran, France, Australia
LanguagePersian

A Separation

A Separation (Persian: جدایی نادر از سیمین‎, romanized: Jodaí-e Nadér az Simín, meaning The Separation of Nader from Simin) (also titled Nader and Simin, A Separation) is a 2011 Iranian drama film written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, starring Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, and Sarina Farhadi. It focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, the disappointment and desperation suffered by their daughter due to the egotistical disputes and separation of her parents, and the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower-class caregiver for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

A Separation won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, becoming the first Iranian film to win the award. It received the Golden Bear for Best Film and the Silver Bears for Best Actress and Best Actor at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, becoming the first Iranian film to win the Golden Bear. It also won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Feature Film. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, making it the first non-English film in five years to achieve this.


Plot

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Simin desperately wants to leave Iran with Nader, her husband of 14 years, and their daughter, Termeh. Nader, however, is concerned for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Simin files for divorce, but the family court judges the couple's problems insufficient to warrant divorce and rejects Simin's application.

Simin moves back in with her parents but Termeh decides to stay with her father. Nader hires Razieh, a deeply religious woman from a poor suburb of Tehran, to take care of his father while he is at work. Her family is financially dependent on the job, and she takes her young daughter, Somayeh, with her. Razieh quickly becomes overwhelmed by taking care of Nader's father, which is physically and emotionally demanding, especially as she is four months pregnant. One day, Razieh asks her daughter to help by taking the trash outside, but the bag bursts on the stairs. Razieh mops it up, but discovers that Nader's father has disappeared. Alarmed, Razieh runs down the street after him.

The next day, Nader and Termeh return to discover her grandfather lying unconscious on the floor in his bedroom, tied to the bed. Razieh and Somayeh are nowhere to be found. When they return, Nader accuses Razieh of neglecting his father and stealing money (unbeknownst to Nader, Simin used the money to pay movers). When she refuses to leave until he pays her, he pushes Razieh out of the apartment. She falls on the stairwell outside. Hodjat's sister later calls Simin to inform her that Razieh is in the hospital. Nader and Simin go to the hospital, where they encounter her husband, Hodjat, and learn she has suffered a miscarriage.

If it is proven that Nader knew of Razieh's pregnancy and caused the miscarriage, he could be sentenced for murder. In front of a criminal judge, Nader accuses Razieh of neglecting his father, while the hot-headed and aggressive Hodjat physically confronts Nader on several occasions. He yells at Termeh's teacher Mrs Ghahraei, who was tutoring her at the flat, after she gives a statement in support of Nader, who she didn't think could hear the conversation they had when Razieh first arrived, in which Razieh discussed her pregnancy and Mrs Ghahraei recommended an OB/GYN who does sonograms. When Hodjat is arrested for another outburst, Razieh begs the judge, explaining that he has mental disorders and is taking medication. Nader takes pity on her and asks the judge to not jail him. Nader learns from Somayeh that the reason Razieh was absent that day was because she had gone to visit a physician, which Razieh had avoided revealing earlier. Nader and Mrs Ghahraei wonder if Hodjat is physically abusive to Razieh and caused her miscarriage. Meanwhile, Termeh asks her father if he really didn't know Razieh was pregnant, because her mother thinks he did, and he says he did not, but that Simin is trying to turn her against him.

Nader physically demonstrates to investigators that it is unlikely Razieh could have fallen where she did if he had pushed her out of the door, which angers Hodjat more. Hodjat shows up at Termeh's school and harasses her and her teacher, accusing Mrs Ghahraei of lying. Simin, fearing for Termeh's safety, wants Nader to pay restitution for the loss of their child to make the case go away. Nader is initially outraged by Simin's suggestion and Simin and Nader both blame each other for the situation as their marriage continues to disintegrate. Termeh overhears Nader leaving a voicemail for Mrs Ghahraei for the name of the OB/GYN whose number she gave to Razieh the first day, and Termeh asks her father how he could have heard this if he claimed he didn't hear the conversation. He admits he did hear it but was forced to lie or spend up to three years in prison, and that he was concerned what would happen to her. Mrs Ghahraei also realizes he lied and withdraws her statement, telling the judge about his phone call. When the judge questions Nader how he could have known this, he claims his daughter told him. The judge tells Nader to send Termeh into his office. Nader hesitates, then sends her in without instructing her to lie for him. The judge is surprised that Termeh doesn't know what he wants to ask her, meaning Nader did not prepare her, and he believes her when she lies to protect her father.

Simin tries to negotiate a settlement with Hodjat. However, Razieh reveals to Simin she has serious doubts as to whether Nader's actions caused the miscarriage, considering she had earlier been hit by a car while retrieving Nader's father when he had wandered out of the apartment and had first experienced symptoms of the miscarriage that night. Razieh fears that without the money Nader can provide in or out of court Hodjat will not be able to pay back his debtors, destroying their family. After another full-blown argument, Simin forces Termeh to leave with her. Nader agrees to the payment and asks Razieh to swear on the Qur'an that he is the cause of her miscarriage. Since she has doubts, she refuses, though Hodjat tries to force her to avoid dishonor in front of his creditors, and begins hitting himself over and over in rage.

Later, at the family court, Nader and Simin have filed for a divorce once again. The judge makes their separation permanent, and asks Termeh which parent she chooses to live with. She states that she has made a decision, but asks that the judge tell her parents to wait outside before she tells him. Her decision is left unresolved.


Cast

  • Leila Hatami as Simin, a teacher and mother in Tehran
  • Peyman Moaadi as Nader, Simin's husband of 14 years
  • Sarina Farhadi as Termeh, Simin and Nader's teenaged daughter
  • Sareh Bayat as Razieh, devout wife and mother employed as a caregiver for Nader's father
  • Shahab Hosseini as Hodjat, Razieh's troubled and unemployed husband
  • Kimia Hosseini as Somayeh, Razieh and Hodjat's young daughter
  • Merila Zarei as Mrs Ghahraei, Termeh's teacher
  • Babak Karimi as Judge
  • Shirin Yazdanbakhsh as Simin's mother and Nader's mother-in-law
  • Ali-Asghar Shahbazi as Nader's elderly father, suffering from severe Alzheimer's

Production

The concept came from a number of personal experiences and abstract pictures which had been in Asghar Farhadi's mind for some time. Once he decided to make the film, about a year before it premiered, it was quickly written and financed. Farhadi described the film as the "logical development" from his previous film, About Elly. Like Farhadi's last three films, A Separation was made without any government support. The financing went without trouble much thanks to the success of About Elly. The production was granted US$25,000 in support from the Motion Picture Association's APSA Academy Film Fund.

In September 2010, Farhadi was banned from making the film by the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, because of an acceptance speech held during an award ceremony where he expressed support for several Iranian film personalities. Notably he had wished to see the return to Iranian cinema of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an exiled filmmaker and Iranian opposition profile, and of the imprisoned political filmmaker Jafar Panahi, both of whom had been connected to the Iranian Green Movement. The ban was lifted in the beginning of October after Farhadi claimed to have been misperceived and apologized for his remarks.


Release

The film premiered on 9 February 2011 at the 29th Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran. Six days later it played in Competition at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival. Farhadi had previously competed at the festival's 2009 edition with About Elly, for which he had received the Silver Bear for Best Director. A Separation was distributed in Iran through Filmiran. Distribution rights for the United Kingdom were acquired by Artificial Eye.

Box office

As of 17 April 2014, A Separation has grossed worldwide over $24 million on an estimated budget of $800,000, making it a box-office success.

Critical reception

The film has been met with universal acclaim from film critics. It currently holds a 99% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 176 reviews with an average rating of 8.90/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Morally complex, suspenseful, and consistently involving, A Separation captures the messiness of a dissolving relationship with keen insight and searing intensity", as well as a score of 95 on Metacritic based on 41 reviews, making it the best-reviewed film of 2011.

Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter wrote from the Berlinale:

Just when it seemed impossible for Iranian filmmakers to express themselves meaningfully outside the bounds of censorship, Asghar Farhadi's Nader and Simin, A Separation comes along to prove the contrary. Apparently simple on a narrative level yet morally, psychologically and socially complex, it succeeds in bringing Iranian society into focus for in a way few other films have done.

Young noted how Farhadi portrayed Iran's social and religious divisions, and complimented the film's craft:

As in all the director's work, the cast is given top consideration and their realistic acting results in unusual depth of characterization. All five main actors stand out sharply in Mahmood Kalari's intimate cinematography. Though the film lasts over two hours, Hayedeh Safiyari's fast-moving editing keeps the action tensely involving from start to finish.

In a strongly positive review from Screen Daily, Lee Marshall wrote:

Showing a control of investigative pacing that recalls classic Hitchcock and a feel for ethical nuance that is all his own, Farhadi has hit upon a story that is not only about men and women, children and parents, justice and religion in today's Iran, but that raises complex and globally relevant questions of responsibility, of the subjectivity and contingency of "telling the truth", and of how thin the line can be between inflexibility and pride – especially of the male variety – and selfishness and tyranny.

Alissa Simon from Variety called it Farhadi's strongest work yet and described it:

Tense and narratively complex, formally dense and morally challenging... The provocative plot casts a revealing light on contempo Iranian society, taking on issues of gender, class, justice and honor as a secular middle-class family in the midst of upheaval winds up in conflict with an impoverished religious one.

David Thomson for The New Republic wrote:

You cannot watch the film without feeling kinship with the characters and admitting their decency as well as their mistakes. The American films made this year that deal with the internal detail and difficulty of family life – like The Descendants — are airy, pretty and affluent compared with A Separation. With the best will in the world, George Clooney cannot discard his aura of stardom, yet the actors in the Iranian film seem caught in their characters' traps.

The film won the Fajr Film Festival's Crystal Simorghs for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematographer and Best Sound Recorder. It also received the Audience Favourite Film award. It won the top award, the Golden Bear for Best Film, at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival. The actress ensemble received the Silver Bear for Best Actress, and the actor ensemble the Silver Bear for Best Actor. In addition it received the Competition Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the Berliner Morgenpost Readers' Prize. Isabella Rossellini, the Jury president of the Berlin International Film Festival, said that the choice of Farhadi's film for the Golden Bear was "pretty unanimous". Farhadi commented that he never would have thought he would win the Golden Bear, and that the film's victory offered "a very good opportunity to think of the people of my country, the country I grew up in, the country where I learned my stories – a great people". Ahmad Miralaii, the director of Iran's Farabi Cinematic Foundation, said that "Iranian cinema is proud of the awards", as he welcomed Farhadi at the airport upon the director's return from Berlin.

A Separation was voted the second best film of 2011 in the annual Sight & Sound critic poll, as well as in the LA Weekly Film Poll 2011. The film was also voted No. 3 in the annual indieWire critic survey for 2011, No. 4 in the 2011 poll by Film Comment, and was ranked No. 5 on Paste magazine's 50 Best Movies of 2011. Roger Ebert ranked the film No. 1 on his The Best Films of 2011 list and wrote: "A Separation will become one of those enduring masterpieces watched decades from now".

Iranian critic Massoud Farasati, whose views are close to those of the Islamic regime, said "The image of our society that A Separation depicts is the dirty picture westerners are wishing for".

Industry reaction

Steven Spielberg stated he believed the film to be the best of that year by a wide margin. Other admirers of the film included Woody Allen who called Farhadi to congratulate him on the film. David Fincher, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie spoke to Farhadi during the awards season each offering their praise for him and the film.

Top ten lists

The film has appeared on numerous critics' top ten lists for 2011, some notable of which are the following:

  • 1st: Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
  • 1st: Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
  • 1st: Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor
  • 1st: Mike D'Angelo, Freelance
  • 1st: Nathaniel Rogers, The Film Experience
  • 1st: Kristy Puchko, The Film Stage
  • 1st: A. A. Dowd, Time Out Chicago
  • 2nd: Alison Willmore, The A.V. Club
  • 2nd: Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader
  • 2nd: Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist
  • 2nd: Chuck Bowen, Slant
  • 2nd: David Fear, Time Out New York
  • 2nd: Peter Martin, Twitch
  • 2nd: Tom Hall, Sarasota Film Festival
  • 3rd: Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
  • 3rd: Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
  • 3rd: Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club
  • 3rd: Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
  • 3rd: Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald
  • 3rd: Dave McCoy, MSN Movies
  • 3rd: Nick Schager, Slant
  • 3rd: Peter Howell, Toronto Star
  • 4th: Ray Greene, Boxoffice Magazine
  • 4th: Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Sight & Sound magazine included the film in its list of "30 great films of the 2000s". A Separation was later named the ninth-greatest film of the 21st century in a 2016 BBC critics' poll. In 2018 the film was ranked 21st in the BBC's list of The 100 greatest foreign language films of all time. In 2019, The Guardian ranked the film 36th in its 100 best films of the 21st century list.

Awards and nominations

AwardDate of ceremonyCategoryRecipient(s)ResultRef(s)
Academy Awards26 February 2012Best Original ScreenplayAsghar FarhadiNominated
Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationWon
Asia Pacific Screen Awards24 November 2011Best Feature FilmA SeparationWon
Achievement in DirectingAsghar FarhadiNominated
Best Performance by an ActorPeyman MoaadiNominated
Best ScreenplayAsghar FarhadiNominated
Asian Film Awards19 March 2012Best FilmA SeparationWon
Best DirectorAsghar FarhadiWon
Best ActressLeila HatamiNominated
Favorite ActressLeila HatamiNominated
Best ScreenwriterAsghar FarhadiWon
Best EditorHayedeh SafiyariWon
BBC Four World Cinema Awards20 November 2011BBC Four World Cinema AwardAsghar FarhadiWon
Berlin International Film Festival20 February 2011Golden BearAsghar FarhadiWon
Best ActressLeila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi and Kimia HosseiniWon
Best ActorPeyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Ali-Asghar Shahbazi and Babak KarimiWon
Prize of the Ecumenical JuryAsghar FarhadiWon
Bodil Awards3 March 2012Best Non-American FilmA SeparationWon
Boston Society of Film Critics11 December 2011Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationRunner-up
British Academy Film Awards12 February 2012Best Film Not in the English LanguageA SeparationNominated
British Independent Film Awards4 December 2011Best Foreign FilmA SeparationWon
Broadcast Film Critics Association12 January 2012Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationWon
Camerimage5 December 2011Silver FrogMahmoud KalariWon
Chicago Film Critics Association19 December 2011Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationWon
César Awards24 February 2012Best Foreign FilmA SeparationWon
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association16 December 2011Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationWon
David di Donatello Awards4 May 2012Best Foreign FilmA SeparationWon
Durban International Film Festival29 July 2012Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationWon
Fajr International Film Festival19 February 2011Audience Award – Best FilmA SeparationWon
Crystal Simorgh Award – Best DirectorAsghar FarhadiWon
Crystal Simorgh Award – Best CinematographyMahmoud KalariWon
Crystal Simorgh Award – Best ScreenplayAsghar FarhadiWon
Crystal Simorgh Award – Best Sound RecordingMahmoud SamakbashiWon
Diploma of Honor – Best Actor in a Supporting RoleShahab HosseiniWon
Diploma of Honor – Best Actress in a Supporting RoleSareh BayatWon
Golden Globe Awards13 January 2012Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationWon
Guldbagge Awards23 January 2012Best Foreign FilmA SeparationWon
Independent Spirit Awards25 February 2012Best Foreign FilmA SeparationWon
International Film Festival of India3 December 2011Best DirectorAsghar FarhadiWon
London Film Critics' Circle19 January 2012Foreign Language Film of the YearA SeparationWon
Film of the YearA SeparationNominated
Director of the YearAsghar FarhadiNominated
Screenwriter of the YearAsghar FarhadiWon
Supporting Actress of the YearSareh BayatWon
Los Angeles Film Critics Association11 December 2011Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationRunner-up
Best ScreenplayAsghar FarhadiWon
Melbourne International Film Festival24 August 2011Most Popular Feature FilmA SeparationWon
National Board of Review1 December 2011Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationWon
National Society of Film Critics7 January 2012Best FilmA Separation3rd Place
Best ScreenplayAsghar FarhadiWon
Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationWon
New York Film Critics Circle29 November 2011Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationWon
Online Film Critics Society2 January 2012Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationWon
Palm Springs International Film Festival15 January 2012FIPRESCI award for best actressLeila Hatami, Sareh Bayat and Sarina FarhadiWon
Satellite Awards18 December 2011Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationNominated
Sydney Film Festival20 June 2011Best FilmAsghar FarhadiWon
Toronto Film Critics Association14 December 2011Best Foreign Language FilmA SeparationRunner-up
Toronto International Film Festival18 September 2011People's Choice AwardAsghar FarhadiRunner-up
Vancouver International Film Festival16 October 2011Roger's People's Choice AwardAsghar FarhadiWon
Yerevan International Film Festival18 July 2011Grand Prix – Golden Apricot for Best Feature FilmAsghar FarhadiWon

^ Each date is linked to the article about the awards held that year wherever possible.