A Separation, Blu-ray (2012)
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics [8/21/2012]
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Cast: Leila Hatami; Peyman Moaadi; Shahab Hosseini; Sareh Bayat; Sarina Farhadi; Babak karimi
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 display, 1080p HD color
Audio: DTS-HD MA 3.0 (front channels)
Subtitles: English, French
Length: 123 minutes
Extras: Commentary with writer/director Asghar Farhadi; An Evening With Asghar Fahadi; Birth Of A Director Featurette
Ratings: Video: **** Audio: **** Extras: ***
Those expecting the critically acclaimed (It was Oscar-nominated) Iranian film, A Separation to focus directly on socio-political current events, may be in for a surprise. Certainly Iranian culture provides sub-context to the narrative, but in the final analysis, the film, directed by Asghar Farhadi, centers on a marital relationship. The film opens in a divorce court. Simm (Leila Hatami) is seeking a divorce from her husband Nader (Peyman Moaadi). She wants to take her daughter away from Iran. However, Nader is taking care of his father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. The judge does not grant Simm’s request, and the tone of the movie is set. With a subdued, “fly on the wall” technique, this character-based story slowly unfolds.
After the court decision, Nader hires a woman (Sareh Bayat) to care for his father. A new and interesting conflict arises. The caretaker is pregnant and has a husband who has run afoul of the law (though not in any violent way). She is morally uncomfortable with the intimacy of this particular care giving, and approaches the situation with great trepidation and ambivalence. The story moves forward, but not without some unexpected turns. What makes this movie compelling is the unpredictability of the content. Within a perceived, simple context, there are compelling twists and turns.
The transfer to Blu-ray is very good. Certainly it does not compare to large-budget movie productions. The muted visual imagery (a lot of beige and grey) is natural, and when some color is introduced, it is vivid. DTS Master Audio is more than capable for this project. Due to the focus on indoor, dialogue-centered scenes, the muffled noise and hushed voices are picked up with clarity. There are some bonus features, including a short interview with Farhardi (Birth Of A Director), detailing the development of his career. An Interview With Asghar Farhadi is more incisive and includes a discussion with a moderator and audience.
What makes A Separation compelling is the storytelling. There is empathy for the characters that is not orchestrated. Substance over style works here.
If any recording is essential to the genre, this is it.