(director/writer: Asghar Farhadi; cinematographer: Hossein Jafarian; editor: Hayedeh Safiyari; music: Sattar Oraki; cast: Shahab Hossein (Emad), Taraneh Alidoosti (Rana), Babak Karimi (Babak), Farid Sajjadihosseini (The Man), Mina Sadati (Sanam), Maral Bani Adam (Kati), Mehdi Kooshki (Siavash), Emad Emami (Ali), Shirin Aghakashi (Esmat), Mojtaba Pirzadeh (Majid), Sahra Asadollahe (Mojgan), Ehteram Boroumand (Mrs. Shahnazari), Sam Valipour (Sadra); Runtime: 125; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Asghar Farhadi; Arte France Cinéma; 2016)

“Revealing neorealistic drama about the human condition in modern Tehran.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The 44-year-old Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi‘s (“A Separation “/”About Elly”) writes and directs this well-crafted, revealing neorealistic drama about the human condition in modern Tehran. A young couple, Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) and Emad (Shahab Hossein), are amateur performers in the midst of rehearsing for Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” while forced to evacuate their apartment because their building collapses. A leading member of their acting troupe, Babak (Babak Karimi), finds them another apartment in the housing crunch. Problems arise when the former tenant, unknown to them, was a promiscuous woman with many clients, who leaves her possessions behind while searching unsuccessfully for another apartment. The gist of the film is about a stranger, a client of the former tenant, attacking Rana while she is showering and leaving her traumatized and bleeding from head wounds. Rana is unable to perform and unwilling to go to the police, so the revenge seeking Esmad, a popular high school teacher by day, on his own seeks revenge on the attacker when he locates his pick-up truck near his apartment. Farhadi explores the psychology of vengeance and how a marriage can become strained when the couple is taken out of their comfort zone. In particular it gives us some notions how a modern couple in Tehran might face a life crisis. The film’s flaw is that Farhadi exposes only simplistic truths, failing to explore the shaken woman’s inner feelings with any depth.