BMCC undergrad Justin Wong Zhe Xuan offers an international movie review.
At first, Farhadi’s critically acclaimed work “A Separation” seemed like a simple storyline that would revolve around the reason behind Simin and Nadar’s divorce but by utilizing minor sub plots, it has created an interesting story structure that consists of small yet impactful events that slowly come together to contribute to the bigger picture of the movie.
The movie starts off with an argument about divorcing between Simin and Nadar in front of the judge inside the court room. Simin wants to move out of the country for the child’s future but Nadar refuses to go with that idea as his father is old and suffers from Alzheimer’s. After that, Simin moves out of the house and Nadar hires a maid named Razieh to take care of his father.
One day, Nadar comes home with the daughter, Termeh but no one answered the door. Nadar got the house keys from the car and realizes Razieh isn’t in the house. He rushes to the father’s room and saw him on the ground with his hands tied together. When Razieh returns to the house, Nader has a little brawl with her and pushes out of the house and Razieh falls off the stairs and caused her a miscarriage which she did not inform her employers beforehand.
Razieh accuses Nadar causing the miscarriage intentionally. However, Nader denies it saying that he couldn’t even tell she was pregnant in the first place. Razieh’s husband, Hodjat after knowing the news was furious with Nadar and had a brawl with him. Termeh, the daughter was very sure that the father was lying about not knowing of the pregnancy because he was too present when Razieh talked about her pregnancy with Termeh’s tutor.
Nader and Simin agrees on giving money to Razieh as the fairest way to end the conflict. One night, everyone gathers in Razieh’s house and Nader is ready to give the money but before that, he wanted Razieh to swear on the Quran that she is not the cause of the miscarriage. Razieh, was scared and then reveal to his husband that the baby did not die because of Nader, but because she was hit by a car days before that. As a result, afraid of sinning, Razieh rejected the money.
The movie ends with Termeh being asked to make a decision who to follow, the mom or the dad. Decision was not revealed leaving the audience to interpret.
The main themes that could be identified throughout the movie is mostly about gender, social class and social stratification. It shows the contrast of the two different families that are of different social statuses. Nadar’s family is the modern one and Razieh’s family is the traditional one. Simin can be seen wearing a hijab that revealed a bit of her dyed red hair but Razieh is shown to be fully covered by the hijab like any other traditional women. Razieh’s religious personality was also shown when she keeps on reminding her daughter to put on her veil.
The houses that both of the families live in can also tell a lot about the difference in social class in Iran. From the looks of Razieh’s house, we can see that Razieh is desperate for money which is why she wanted the job back after her first attempt to quit. Simin was able to bail his husband out of jail but Razieh wasn’t able to. Both Nader and Simin have a car but Razieh and Hojjat only have a scooter.
In the movie, we can also see how religion intertwines with their daily lives in Iran. Each and every actions and decisions of Razieh were made based of her Islamic beliefs, whether or not it’s a sin. In one particular scene where Nadar’s father peed in his pants, she was contemplating whether or not to help him change his pants, so she got on the phone and asked whether or not it’s a sin. Just from this impactful scene, we can deduce that religion plays a huge role in the daily lives of Iranians and even the resolution of the final conflict revolved around religion. Nader and Simin agreed to give some money to them to resolve the conflict. However, Nader was sceptical about Razieh’s plead. Which was why Nader wanted Razieh to swear on the Quran if he is guilty of the miscarriage. Although Hodjat really wanted to get the money, Razieh refused to swear on the Quran because she knew for sure that it was the car accident that caused her miscarriage, not Nader and by falsely swearing on behalf of the Quran would be a huge sin.