With it writer and director Ashghar Farhadi illustrates the phenomenal pressures exacted on families, some of which are specific to Iran, and also the terrible effect of divorce on children who have to choose between not just parents, but countries. There are many levels on which this film pronounces cinematic excellence, Farhadi heads an exemplary team both in front of and behind the camera, but the main appeal of the film is this central universal point. So what makes it specifically Iranian?
To me the stifling dilemma put on Termeh the daughter is one unique to Iranians today who have the means to leave, while Razieh is faced with different but equally as afflictive pressures put on her by her class, religion and sex. Also the fact that swearing on the Qur’an is the pivotal point at which the truth comes out, as opposed to previous scenes in the law courts or before friends and family. For was it more than superstition that drove Razieh to withhold? Many have committed perjury in court but at home, inside the heart, surely the truth has a sanctified place reserved for one’s spirit.
“Q from Shockya: I think the film provides a portrait of Iranian women and Iran in general, that is very different and obviously more fully realized than the portrait we receive through much of the mainstream media here in the States. That big contrast between tradition and modernity, is that very much on the surface in Iran?
Farhadi: No, actually it’s not on the surface. It’s in the depths, and that’s what makes it more dangerous. A malady whose symptoms are externalized and can be seen can be addressed and treated quickly. But an ailment that is hidden inside your body and only makes itself known from time to time is very dangerous. I think I have come to call this a hidden war.”