Bradley Cooper's conventional, crowd-pleasing direction adds nothing special to this story. It has all the markings of an amateurish first time director: emphasis on brightly lit, eye-catching visuals, cliché-ridden, predictable plot beats; "restrained", Oscar-reel-ready acting; multiple shots of a cute dog for the sole purpose of engineering "awws" from the audience (both the adorable kind and the sad kind). This is perhaps what I should've been expecting, but the rapturous acclaim led me to think that was going to be…
A Masterpiece. Every single scene is dripping with emotional, moral, and human complexity, and Farhadi utilizes the cinematic form to complement the story rather than carry it, mixing together beautiful, vibrant visuals with fluid, elegant camera work. A "controlled dramatic explosion" is right.