(director/writer: Asghar Farhadi; cinematographer: Mahmoud Kalari; editor: Juliette Welfling; music: Evgueni Galperine, Youli Galperine; cast: Ali Mosaffa (Ahmad), Bérénice Bejo (Marie), Jeanne Jestin (Lea), Tahar Rahim (Samir), Pauline Burlet(Lucie), Sabrina Ouazani (Naima), Elyes Aguis (Fouad), Babak Karimi (Shahryar), Valeria Cavalli (Valeria), Aleksandra Klebanska (Céline); Runtime: 130; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Alexandre Mallet-Guy; Sony; 2013-France-in French with English subtitles)
“A deeply affecting humanist melodrama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi(“A Separation”/”Dancing in the Dust”) sets his emotional family drama in Paris.

The bearded Iranian Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) returns to France to finalize his divorce from his estranged French wife Marie (Bérénice Bejo), and when in Paris learns she has a new lover Samir (Tahar Rahim) whom she intends to marry. Upon reuniting at Marie’s humble dwelling in the suburban outskirts of Paris, after not seeing each other for four years, the couple begin arguing just like they always did. At home are Marie’s two daughters from a previous marriage, the sullen teenager Lucie (Pauline Burlet) and the sweet adolescent Lea (Jeanne Jestin). Also living with Marie and Samir is his confused 8-year-old son Fouad (Elyes Aguis). Though Ahmad’s arrival is the cause of all the tension, he is the adult in the room and is expected to be the rational one to help solve all the family problems. Complications for the divorce are fueled because the Iranian Samir’s French wife Céline (Aleksandra Klebanska) is in a coma, on life support in a hospital, for the last eight months, after a suicide attempt.Though the film takes place in the present, all the woes of the characters linger from the past. The marital drama concerns itself with how things get worked out, and the anguish on the children from the marital discord. The troubled Lucie blames Samir for his wife’s suicide and refuses to live in the same house with him if mom marries him. The result is a deeply affecting humanist melodrama, with whodunit elements and keen observations about how these unsettled characters react to misunderstandings, unfortunate incidents and things beyond their control. The first-rate acting and storytelling ensure that this is a superior drama.