For years on both sides of the ocean, groups of hardliners have tried to present to their people unrealistic and fearful images of various nations and cultures in order to turn their differences into disagreements, their disagreements into enmities and their enmities into fears. Instilling fear in the people is an important tool used to justify extremist and fanatic behavior by narrow-minded individuals.
However, I believe that the similarities among the human beings on this earth and its various lands, and among its cultures and its faiths, far outweigh their differences.
-Excerpt from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s official statement re: not attending the 2017 Oscars (where this film has been nominated Best Foreign Language Film of the Year)
NOTE: This review contains SPOILERS for the film.
The film is openly an allegory about social, urban and marital decay. But way beyond it, it is about the costs of masculine pride. …this is a superb statement about the unbearable consequences of trying to live up to codes of honour that centre on the female body.
-Excerpt from IMDB review
This is the new film from the famed/respected Iranian director who brought us A Separation. I went to see it two weeks ago (it was a sold-out screening) at AFI in Silver Spring, MD. This movie is NOT as interesting as A Separation (which also co-stars Shahab Hosseini), BUT it’s worth a look (esp. if you like naturalistic cinema). It would’ve been more effective if had been shorter; the running time is a BIT over 2 hrs. There is a much left unsaid (b/c of censors); the limits put on artists are referred to also in the play (A Death of A Salesman) w/in the film.
A married couple in Tehran, Emad (Hosseini- an engineer turned actor) and Raana (Taraneh Alidoosti), recently moved into a new apt (thanks to their older friend, Babak). They are irritated to discover that one room is locked b/c the previous tenant (“a woman who had many male visitors”) hasn’t come to get her stuff. Babak’s calls go unanswered by the former tenant, so Emad’s friends pry open the door and empty out her stuff. We learn that this woman (no one ever mentions the word “prostitute”) had a young son; his drawings are in one corner of the room.
WHAT exactly happened to Raana the night she was mistaken for this prostitute and assaulted? It’s left up to the audience to decide, b/c we don’t hear SVU-style details. Hosseini (winner of the Best Actor award at Cannes Film Festival) is in almost every scene; he characterizes an Everyman who slowly breaks down. He can’t communicate well w/ Raana, get help from the law (she wants to forget about it), so gets obsessed w/ finding the attacker (revenge).
…words of truth are spoken not in the real life, but on a theater stage while playing roles.
-Excerpt from IMDB review
Now, this is NOT the type of man you’d expect to act irrationally, being a mild-mannered teacher at a boy’s high school (day job) and actor (in the theater after work). Raana is also acting alongside him and their friends. One of the actresses in the troupe is a divorced single mom w/ an adorable young son. Though Raana and Emad don’t have kids, they are good w/ this boy when they babysit him one evening.
How does Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman relate to their lives? Sorry, I can’t answer that, b/c I haven’t read/seen that play yet. Farhadi said in an interview that the play is VERY popular in Iran, where modern audiences have embraced it.
The last twenty minutes of film are really breathtaking and the spectators associate with Emad more than anytime and I think they regularly ask themselves “if I were him, what would I do?”
-Excerpt from IMDB review
If you’re looking for suspense and tension, then wait until the last quarter of this film. There are intense moments, for sure! By then, Emad is VERY on edge, and getting close to becoming the villain in his own story. Maybe he’s NOT that far from the domineering, volatile, working-class man he played in A Separation? Raana, who has been in a fog of depression, is shocked when she sees his behavior. We wonder: What will happen w/ their marriage?
 The scenes of the hotels being so full and nothing for people to buy in the boom towns is very accurate. The development of the great department store is really telling the story of famed Texas department stores such as Neiman-Marcus…
 I love the story of the strong, driven, successful woman. She so reminds me of the woman I always aspired to be. It was such a perfect match between Jane Wyman and Charlton Heston. They really complimented each other.
…and the ups and downs of the relationship could fit today’s challenges for a woman who wants to have it all. But what I’ll admit right now is how I loved the clothes!!!
 Thelma Ritter was a little doll in here. I’m so used to her in her usual matronly-maidish clothes — but seeing her in those Edith Head creations at the end was wonderful.
-Various IMDB comments
If you liked Giant (1956), then give this film a look. The story centers on Lucy Gallant (Jane Wyman), a fashionable upper-class woman who leaves NYC for a Texas boom town in the ’30s. Upon getting off the train, she meets Casey Cole (Charlton Heston), a local cowboy. He carries her over the mud, since her heels are NOT quite suited for this environment.
Casey takes a liking to Lucy, even taking her to the boarding house where he sometimes stays while in town; it’s owned by an older friend, Molly (Thelma Ritter- a character actress who’s great in everything), and her husband, Gus. Molly is pleasantly surprised to see Casey w/ such a classy woman. (It’s cool to see Thelma Ritter in some glam clothes later in the film; she usually plays housekeepers.) After settling her in, Casey heads off to his OWN ranch.
To get started in business, Lucy sells her wedding trousseau to local women (wives and daughters of men who’ve recently discovered oil). We learn that her father died amid a financial scandal, then her fiancé left her at the altar. Casey is impressed by Lucy’s plans and ambitions, BUT also skeptical (after all, she has NEVER worked before). Lucy is (obviously) attracted to Casey, BUT she keeps him at arm’s length, since her main focus is starting a clothing store.
One day, Lucy and Casey have a picnic on his ranch. He’s thinking re: selling his family’s land to a large oil company, then settling down (w/ a wife and kids, of course). Well, Lucy gets the hint, BUT she says that she MUST return to take care of the store. The store gets started on a good footing, thanks to unique inventory, loyal customers, and her long hours of hard work.
This is one of those classic films that is still VERY relevant today! Can women “have it all” (career, family, social life, etc)? Why are MANY men intimidated by successful women, esp. those who earn more than themselves? There is good chemistry between Wyman and Heston; their characters are BOTH quite confidant, tough, and stubborn-minded. Will they EVER get together!?