Iranian Asghar Farhardi has proven himself to be one of the world’s best directors. The Past follows his highly-regarded A Separation, and audiences with high expectations will not be disappointed.
This is a very fine film, continuing in the vein of his previous films and their close study of individuals and interrelationships, often low-key, set within a comparatively small world, but nevertheless showing an extraordinarily humane sensitivity and creating believable characters with both strengths and weaknesses. The film was made in France, the director not speaking any French but, nevertheless, eliciting wonderful performances from his cast.
Berenice Bejo as Marie won the Best actress award in Cannes, 2013 (where The Past also won the Ecumenical Award). She is most persuasive in a very complex role. And the men are impressive as well, Ali Mossaf as Ahmad, her former husband arriving in Paris to sign divorce papers, and Tahir Rahim as Samir, the local drycleaner with whom she is having an affair and wants to marry, especially because she is pregnant.
The performances by some of the children in the film are outstanding, making us wonder how on earth the director elicited such action, feelings, extraordinary expressions of emotions, especially of the young boy. They include Marie’s teenage daughter, as angry a character as you will ever see on screen, resenting her mother and the new liaison, its effect on her, on Samir’s little son, because they have both moved in with Marie.
And the performance of the little boy, Samir’s son, is absolutely convincing and passionate, in anger, in wilfulness, ultimately in affection.
The performances are excellent, quite believable, especially in audiences responding sympathetically. The dialogue is powerful, and very credible. In fact, the film does offer a mirror to us all, loves, fidelities, infidelities, rancour, vengeance, angers, with an Iranian sensibility which is quite universal. One of the best films of any year.
- Peter Malone, ACOFB
Starring Berenice Bejo, Tahir Rahim, Ali Mossaf. Directed by Asghar Farhardi. 130 minutes. Rated M (Mature themes and coarse language).