Movie of the Week: ‘The Past’

AHFW is an Asghar Farhadi fan, and two of the Iranian director’s movies won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, “A Separation” (2011) and “The Salesman” (2016).  Critics often shine praise over the two aforementioned pictures (and deservedly so), but his 2013 film “The Past” doesn’t really receive much play.  It should, although the Hollywood Foreign Press nominated it for a Golden Globe, so we give them a big hand for their past recognition.

“The Past” (2013) – A beautiful woman looks through a large bay window at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport to find her pick-up.  A 40-something guy warmly smiles in her direction, and they comfortably wave back and forth.  Marie (Berenice Bejo) and Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) walk to her car, engage in casual conversation but have small disagreements as she drives home.  Straight away, director Asghar Farhadi (“The Separation”) provides clues that Marie and Ahmad had a close relationship, and he soon reveals that they are married but separated.  The pair will divorce, and this opening sequence sets the tone for Farhadi’s thoroughly compelling film.

Farhadi is an uncanny master at drawing up massive tension and uncertainty through the art of conversation.  Like any great storyteller, he doesn’t reveal his secrets right away.  Over the course of 130 minutes, several truths reveal themselves like waterdrops falling from a leaky faucet.  One absolute truth is Marie’s impending divorce is the least of her problems.

She’s involved in a tangled domestic mess, and Ahmad doesn’t necessarily untangle Marie’s problems but unwittingly shines a bright light on them.

“The Past” sometimes moves with feather-like grace, but it also smashes us over the head with a theatrical sledgehammer.  It’s a complicated and emotionally-rich drama that starts with a simple meeting at the airport.

⭐⭐⭐⭐  out of  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Image credits: Memento Films; Trailer credits: Movieclips Trailers

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