A Separation (2011)
If Hollywood has ever made a film as morally complex as Asghar Farhadi's A Separation (2011), which the missus and I watched last night thanks to the Pittsford Community Library, I haven't seen it. In fact, I haven't seen anything this morally rich since cutting my teeth on the films of Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman, and certainly nothing made in the current century.
Hollywood could not make such a film today in our Western religious void. While the themes of the film are indeed universal — Leo Tolstoy's observation that if you "describe your village... you will describe the world" comes to mind — we need to enter the word of Shia Islam to find characters for whom questions of morality and sin are believably real. What's more, while the atheist in his ignorance thinks that religion bestows upon the believer a set of easy answers to life's problems, this film shows the incredible complexity of moral issues; none of the characters is right or wrong, good or bad. Each is wonderfully human.
Well worth a read is the always-enlightening Steve Sailer's review — Tehran Comes to Hollywood. So is that of the late, great Roger Ebert, whose voice, which I often disagreed with, I miss every time I look for a film review — A Separation. And right to observe that in viewing this film "as social commentary, one could infer a conservative agenda," is Martin Tsai in his review — Divorce Iranian Style.