From the director of A Separation and The Past, we bring you the film by Asghar Farhadi that won the 2017 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.
After their flat becomes damaged, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), a young couple living in Tehran, Iran, must move into another apartment. Once relocated, a sudden eruption of violence linked to the previous tenant of their new home dramatically changes their lives, creating a simmering tension between husband and wife.
It’s a surprise to find a classic post-war play by a Jewish-American playwright at the centre of a new Iranian film. Emad is directing and starring in a production of Miller’s Death Of A Salesman at a time of unexpected upheaval in his domestic life. Farhadi is far too sly and subtle a filmmaker to draw the parallels between Emad and Willy Loman in too obvious a fashion. Nonetheless, what gives the film a searing emotional impact is the way it exposes the hidden flaws in its main character. The Salesman is structured like a thriller, albeit a low key and downbeat one. Emad is the self-appointed detective, looking for clues about his wife’s attacker. He finds car keys, a phone, a truck. The irony is that in the course of his investigations, it’s his own character flaws which emerge. He is relentless and vindictive. He is trying to help his wife but his actions risk alienating her.
The Salesman is shot in the director’s familiar realist fashion, with long takes and naturalistic performances. Farhadi focuses on what seem like banal everyday moments – negotiations over rent, shopping for groceries or bread, conversations on cell phones – but gradually gives us a far more nuanced view of his characters and their motivations than we would get in a more conventional film.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall