The Past

An Iranian man deserts his French wife and her two children to return to his homeland. Meanwhile, his wife starts up a new relationship, a reality her husband confronts upon his wife’s request for a divorce.

Asghar Farhadi’s last film, ‘A Separation’ was a gut wrenching family drama set in Iran, and it eventually walked away with the Oscar statuette for Best Foreign Language Film. His follow up, ‘The Past’ moves the action to France, but everything else is very similar, with another challenging family situation coming to the fore. Berenice Bejo (previously seen in ‘The Artist’) is excellent in the lead role, as a women waiting on her ex-husband (Ali Mosaffa) to arrive from Iran to sign a divorce so she can marry her new boyfriend (Tahar Rahim). The script takes this initial premise and weaves a wonderful story about the notion of family, change, and how indirectly people’s actions can affect other’s futures.

The performances are strong all round from Bejo to the reliable Rahim to Mosaffa, to the child actors, and director Farhadi meticulously crafts a tale that juggles so many themes and so many emotions that in lesser hands it would feel overbearing. All of these characters have made mistakes in their lifes and are suffering because of them, but they are so richly drawn and compelling that we can’t help but empathise with them. This is an excellent film, and well worth seeking out for fans of intelligent European cinema.

Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Asghar Farhadi

Starring: Berenice Bejo, Tahar Rahim and Ali Mosaffa

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