A Separation 2011 ★★★★★

Ego. Shame. Fear. Guilt. All are underscored here insofar as problems can spiral out of control when people push each other to the limit. Even moreso, A Separation shows the true ineffectualness of any bureaucratic legal body to sort out problems that are best suited to dramatization. Thus, we are armed with the God's Eye view, and A SEPARATION appeals to logic, empathy, and yes, judgement. It's the Iranian version of THE SWEET HEREAFTER, in its own way, and damn if that isn't a compliment of the highest order.

I had a plethora of reactions to the film and all of them, I believe, were earned. That is to say: the film doesn't 'cheat' (sorry for opening a can of worms) by going all Lars Von Trier with its plot points.

And that ending is perfect.


  • Check out 2010's The Neighbor.

  • Agreed on the ending. It's not only great, but a neat trick to get people to watch the credits.

    I find some of the arbiter moments a little frustrating - not on the gov't side, but on the human side. Some of the writing there is a little unbelievable and frustrating not in a good way.

    Otherwise, fantastic film.

  • Those arbiter scenes didn't cotton with me at first either, but I did like them afterwards -- the film attacks institutions, and I think they nail the point with the cold, uncaring bureaucrat. If nothing else, it does set up the resolution toward the end.

  • I loved the Arbitrator. We have the (nearly) complete story to we can judge the judge all we want, but coming at it from his perspective, there are a lot of hot-under-the-collar people, and he simply wants unvarnished information (facts?) which are not forthcoming. Thus, he drops the hammer. When is 'the law' supposed to act with empathy? No, it's supposed to be uncaring, that is the point.

    I loved that the arbitrator spend a good chunk of the run-time with his head in his hands....the headache of these people and their half-truths and omissions driving him bonkers.

    In a way, A Separation is a really great black comedy of manners.

  • I think you're misinterpreting what we're saying. The arbiter isn't the problem. He's great and does what he can with what he's given. The problem is with the characters and how they absolutely refuse to explain the situation. The arbiter has nothing to arbitrate. He just has to sit there and listen to people yell at each other. It's frustrating and not believable.

    I've seen enough episodes of The People's Court to understand that people do yell at each other, but at least they explain the situation and tell their side of the story. These people, who are convinced they are right, don't do that.

    I understand that they are maybe hiding something, but thinking back on it, that stuff doesn't really matter when they're trying to plead their case - at that moment. It only mattered later after they refused to have a civil conversation about the problem with the arbiter.

  • Actually, each of the main four adult characters handle their time with the Arbiter in a subtly different manner.

    The Upper-Class Woman is self-righteous about how she thinks the country sucks and has no issue airing her issues with her husband's attitude.

    The Upper-Class man is hiding his shame and protecting his ego by being mostly silent, interjecting only with refutations of others points, or clarifying his own agenda.

    The Lower-Class Woman - Is victimhood incarnate and hiding many reasons for what his happening, including her various lies.

    The Lower-Class Man is indignant of how he perceives that he is treated because of his station. He doesn't care about justices, he is also highlighting his victimhood, but his hot-temper (and lack of information because he never listens) get in the way of anything but insults at the system.

    If you asked me the Upper Class Woman and Lower-Class man have a lot in common, as do the Lower Class Woman and Upper Class Man. But of course, nobody wants to see anything from the other persons perspective, only their own narrow view.

  • The last sentence, is pretty close to one kind of definition of "DRAMA", actually.

  • I think you both may be missing the point of the movie, which is to show the nuances of every character's perspective, a la the greatest film ever made Anatomy of a Murder.

    Andrew nails it with the point about the arbiter having nothing to arbitrate, but I'm not sure he *ahem* gets the whole idea.

  • And I posted that last comment before reading Kurt's last post, because I agree with him (but disagree with the class emphasis).

  • Perhaps a rewatch (knowing the unknown) will help with developing those scenes. I'm not missing the point, it just seems (at the time and thinking back) a little unnecessary and only there to heighten the frustration - but I fully admit I could be wrong as it's been months since I've seen the film.

  • This movie is such a masterpiece. That ending confirmed it for me. I'm so glad people I respect love this movie as much as I did, and have extremely well-thought out theories as to why it works so effectively.

  • I have seen the movie 3 times, it's a movie that demands re-watches. I noticed little details that I missed the first time. This is one great script, everything is layered and the tension builds from scene one till the perfect ending.

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