The Past

“Those who admired Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi’s intense Tehran domestic drama A Separation – one of the key movies of this decade so far – will find the same intimate sensibility and the same finely-wrought shifts in perspective at work in The Past.

"This time Farhadi’s camera is pointed not at the hypocrisies of life in the Islamic Republic but at the darker consequenes of easy-breezy serial monogamy in the secular West. It’s oddly bracing to have an artist come out of a society that we know he finds overly repressive, and immediately make a film that essentially accuses supposedly liberated Westerners of behaving like a bunch of spoiled children. Mind you, The Past is complex and can’t be boiled down to that one theme.

"Almost as soon as we see Marie-Anne picking up her estranged Iranian husband Ahmad at Charles de Gaulle Airport, they start bickering. Officially, Ahmad is coming back from Iran for a brief visit, just to sign the divorce papers and end on a clean and friendly note. Needless to say, it won’t be quite that easy.

“There’s much more to say but I’ll add for now that it’s densely plotted and full of twists and turns, with an element of detective story. Ahmad has no idea what he’s walking into after four years away, and Farhadi delivers the truth about this overly complicated family situation in modest doses of dry comedy.

“The Past is the work of a master. Its central theme, common to both melodramas and thrillers – we all believe we can run away from our past, but it catches up to us eventually – is after all not Western or Eastern, Christian or Muslim or secular, but simply human.” - Salon


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