A Separation

2011

A Separation

Critics Consensus

Morally complex, suspenseful, and consistently involving, A Separation captures the messiness of a dissolving relationship with keen insight and searing intensity.

99%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 172

92%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 22,786
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Movie Info

Set in contemporary Iran, A Separation is a compelling drama about the dissolution of a marriage. Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader and daughter Termeh. Simin sues for divorce when Nader refuses to leave behind his Alzheimer-suffering father. Her request having failed, Simin returns to her parents' home, but Termeh decides to stay with Nader. When Nader hires a young woman to assist with his father in his wife's absence, he hopes that his life will return to a normal state. However, when he discovers that the new maid has been lying to him, he realizes that there is more on the line than just his marriage. -- (C) Sony Pictures Classics

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Critic Reviews for A Separation

All Critics (172) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (171) | Rotten (1)

  • You cannot watch the film without feeling kinship with the characters and admitting their decency as well as their mistakes.

    Jun 19, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Dynamically shot and paced like a thriller, the film has the density and moral prickliness of a good novel.

    Mar 7, 2012 | Full Review…
  • These people seem so real they might live next door. And they probably do.

    Feb 23, 2012 | Rating: A+ | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • "A Separation" is a plaintive fable of the human condition that unites us.

    Feb 17, 2012 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Very few movies capture as convincingly as A Separation does the ways in which seemingly honorable decisions can lead to interpersonal conflict -- even disaster.

    Feb 10, 2012 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • To say the piercing Iranian film A Separation is about divorce is a bit like saying The Wizard of Oz is about a pair of slippers.

    Feb 9, 2012 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for A Separation

  • Dec 28, 2013
    Becoming one of the Top 20 best Iranian films in my book, Asghar Farhadi puts the Iranian industry in the celluloid map once again with a film that works remarkably as an essay on responsibility and lack of communication. Lack of communication leads to lack of trust. Lack of trust leads to loneliness. Loneliness leads to depression. Depression leads to suffering. Suffering, in one way or another, is transmitted to others, and has many ways to manifest depending on your personality. We see this axiomatic spiral in one of the most memorable films of 2011. It doesn't matter where you come from, or where you were born; family matters come first, and they should be treated responsibly, with an open communication. Again, this is the second time I see international cinema putting children in the middle of consequences brought by adults, and therefore having to pay for the broken dishes that their parents broke. They are, unwillingly, protagonists of catastrophes (the ending scene is incredibly ridiculous just as it is real nowadays). Their ideas, expressions and tears are the only hope of light left in this chaotic (and dramatic) world. Also, be careful in taking sides, Every single character in the film made a mistake or said a lie except for the two girls, and each mistake and lie brought to light had a negative impact either on the same person or on somebody else. The power of the spoken word is sacred; do not use it to ruin people's lives. If you were on only one character's side and agreed with him/her completely, you did not understand the movie. Marvelous performances by a very talented ensemble cast of all ages and a screenplay worth worldwide appraisal accentuate this Iranian statement about being honest and taking decisions thinking of your family first and putting yourself in the last place. I had never hated the character of a wife so much since Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). 97/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • May 25, 2013
    an advertisement for taking time to think clearly & lucidly. anger and haste are the motivations by which all the characters bring about their own consternation. also a intriguing insight into the Iranian legal system. drama in the most detailed
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer
  • Mar 06, 2013
    I truly believe that every bible thumping, prejudiced American should be forced to view this complex and beautifully executed film by writer/dir Asghar Farhadi, as it gives not only insight into a different culture, but reveals that the trials and tribulations of these modern Iranian families are no different than our own. The film begins with a couple sitting in front of a judge (who is not seen). The woman is filing for divorce, claiming that after exhaustive efforts, she has finally gotten a visa so she, her husband, and their 11 year old daughter can leave Iran and give their daughter a better life (not that their existence in Iran is all that shabby - but the promise of freedoms and all the west has to offer is enticing, especially to the mother). The husband is resisting the move as he feels he needs to care for his ailing father, who suffers from severe Altzheimers. The wife tells her husband "be reasonable, he doesn't even know you anymore", to which husband replies "but I know him". This sets the table for all that follows, as Farhadi expertly weaves a tale where The Law comes head on against humanity and every major character acts responsibly, and yet all is still a jumble and everyone opposes everyone else, and even themselves and their own best interests. So much is wasted by conformity - to religion and the social mores it insists upon - the wife of a poor family cannot work as a caregiver because there will not be another woman present to confirm her sanctity (a woman is NEVER supposed to be left alone in a room with a man). That the adherence to this tradition is an impetus to so much of what goes on in the film is telling. Each character tells their version of truth, and acts according to their beliefs, but in the end, in spite of their sincerity, there is tragedy and loss and misunderstanding - as if Babel is in effect and everyone is speaking, but no-one understands. This is a very powerful film, and as it points its lens on the 11 year old girl, the film gives us time to ponder how this bright young woman is trapped in a rigid society, just as her parents and the other main characters are equally trapped. The law is an absolute, and when it is formed and cemented by fundamental religious beliefs - its inflexibility is harmful to the citizen... the age old concept of protecting the citizen by keeping them in ignorance so they won't be corrupted by that old Satanic snake of knowledge.
    paul s Super Reviewer
  • Sep 09, 2012
    Again, after a long hiatus in film reviewing mainly due to countless school works and some love sickness, yours truly is back with a take on "A Separation" on his sleeves. Bar none, this film is indeed one of the best of the year on different levels. It's not just a film made good because of a couple of excellent performances or a film made exceptional by a good story. "A Separation", an Iranian film that has won a record of three bears in the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, is a socio-religious morality play that combines a compelling narrative with stirring performances. And in this mixture, one can easily see the flawlessness of it all. Its Academy Award is more than deserved. Directed by Asghar Farhadi, what also makes "A Separation" a notch more special is how it has seemingly made all the complex issues within it flow quite effortlessly. On one side, the film is about the utter devotion to Islamic faith and how doubt can shake things up for the worst. On the other, it's also a penetrating study of class conflict and the fragility of truth. Watching "A Separation", I can't help but be reminded of both "12 Angry Men" and "Rashomon" in terms of how it has also finely explored the subjectivity of truth based on perception and biases and also of a local independent film here in the Philippines entitled "Last Supper No. 3" in terms of the film's realistic portrayal of the legal system. But then again, "A Separation" has too much going on with it that it can't just be merely branded as a meditation on truth. It is, after all, a film about a couple's (played by Peyman Moadi and Leila Hatami) separation and how this can cause a definite ripple effect to other people, specifically a pregnant helper named Razieh (Sareh Bayat) and her husband (Shahab Hosseini). Partly seen through the eyes of the pre-adolescent daughter named Termeh (played by Sarina Farhadi), the film is an observation not of a crumbling marriage but of the domino principle that comes with it and how it affects those around them. There were even no questions raised regarding whose side (husband or wife) are you on. Instead, the deeply moral questions are raised not mainly to us but to the daughter herself, which leads to one of the most quietly powerful endings in recent memory. As the film patiently unfolds, one can easily see how "A Separation" could have also worked quite beautifully on stage. It has the right amount of intensity, complexity and spontaneity; ingredients of an effectively modern theater play. It's also populated with characters that are both realistic and fascinating thanks to the natural performances of the actors involved, which makes me to think that this may also be the most powerfully-acted film of the year. For me, what makes a film powerful, aside from the weight of the things that it wants to say and how they are said, is not being conscious of its strengths. This is the case for "A Separation". It definitely knows what it wants to say but does not preach it. It has a very beautiful material but does not flaunt it. Its drama is powerful enough to explore far-reaching themes of immense societal relevance but does not impose it. Instead, the film just went its way to use the universal language of marriage, separation and religion within the confines of the equally universal language of cinema and tell what needs to be told. What resulted is a film of disquieting power and truth that echoes far beyond its country of origin. Although I would occasionally fawn over an incoherent art film or two, I believe that films like "A Separation" are the ones that we really need today. In a contemporary world where failure of communication is a widespread occurrence, the role of cinema has never been more important. "A Separation" has just exercised the core reason of the medium's very existence.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer

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