The chief character in Asghar Farhadi‘s A Separation (2011), Nader (Peyman Maadi) refuses to admit to his wrongdoing. Frustrated, he will not pay a disappointing caretaker of his sick father her proper wage and pushes her out the door of his apartment to get her to leave. The caretaker, Razieh (Sareh Bayat), who is pregnant, takes a minor fall and subsequently miscarries. She and her angry husband blame Nader’s push for the miscarriage, thus an accusation of murder is made. But, regardless of everyone’s suspicions, the evidence for this is not there. (Does it matter to Iranian society?) What’s more, Razieh herself refuses to admit to wrongdoing. Yet I agree with David Edelstein that “What makes [A Separation] so good is that no one is bad.” They’re just put-upon and fearful.
There is nothing genuinely good about familial separation in Farhadi’s vision. Nader’s wife Simin (Leila Hatami) tries to divorce Nader because he will not leave Iran to go with her to a country more beneficial to their daughter. Rightly the man declines to leave his Alzheimer’s-stricken father. Simin’s desire to separate, and Nader’s willingness to let it happen, opens the door to a painful labyrinth. A grand hiding of the truth emerges. All the not-bad souls suffer, but they resemble most of those Chekhov characters who, rather than shoot themselves, respectably go on living. Fortunately, Farhadi is not hiding the truth.
(In Farsi with English subtitles)