The Past

06 Feb-12 Mar,

Arthouse,

Drama,

Film,

Film Reviews

Critics' choice
4

This scalpel-precise drama picks up almost exactly where writer-director Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning A Separation (2011) left off, with a husband and wife divided by a literal partition, both barely able (if even willing) to communicate. The locale, though, has changed from Tehran to Paris, and the spouses, Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) and Marie (Bérénice Bejo), are about to finalise a split that’s been a long time coming. From the start, there’s trouble: Marie has not booked a hotel for Ahmad, and she plans to have him stay under her own roof with her three children – two daughters from a different father, as well as the stepson of her current beau, Samir (Tahar Rahim).

Scene after scene unfolds with astonishing attention paid to the characters’ subtle shifts of mood, as well as to the respective environments that define them. The way Farhadi gives us a fully formed sense of Marie’s fixer-upper home (not only its physical layout, but the sentiments and sensations that linger at a seemingly microscopic level) is especially skilled. It’s almost impossible to describe the narrative specifics of The Past without making the movie seem ridiculously hammy. Indeed, several twists involving Samir, a dry cleaner with plenty of his own troubles, tip a bit into hoary melodramatics. Yet Farhadi is the kind of artist who can lend even a simpleminded visual metaphor (Ahmad and Marie gaze backward through a car window…into the past!) a cut-to-the-quick profundity. Minor missteps aside, you never feel like you’re in the hands of anyone less than an expert storyteller.

First published on . Updated on .

By Keith Uhlich   |  

The Past video

The Past details

Length: 125 minutes

Country of origin: France/Iran

Year of production: 2013

Classification: M - Mature audiences

Showing 06 Feb-12 Mar

Director: Asghar Farhadi

Cast: Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet, Bérénice Bejo

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