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Forced to leave their collapsing house, Ranaa and Emad, an Iranian couple who happen to be performers rehearsing for Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" rent a new apartment from one of their fellow performers. Unaware of the fact that the previous tenant had been a woman of ill repute having many clients, they settle down. By a nasty turn of events one of the clients pays a visit to the apartment one night while Ranaa is alone at home taking a bath and the aftermath turns the peaceful life of the couple upside down.Written by
A few days after the Oscar nominations were announced and the movie was included among the five nominees as Best Foreign Language Film, Asghar Farhadi made a statement that he would not attend the ceremony due to Donald Trump's executive order barring Iranians from entering in U.S. When the Oscar was awarded to the film, Anousheh Ansari read his prepared statement during the acceptance speech: "I'm sorry I'm not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which themselves have been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others - an empathy that we need today more than ever." See more »
The "Skammen" poster changes between shots several times. When Emad returns to his apartment, the poster is fully visible. A few scenes later when his wife goes to the room, a yellow poster covers the poster only making the letters "Ska" to appear. A third future shot reveals only an "S" behind the yellow poster. See more »
Don't worry about it, it's just the first 100 years that are tough.
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Mixing Hitchcock for suspense and Ibsen for realism, writer/director Asghar Farhadi takes his own spin on those masters to create a psychological thriller that is as much about domestic unrest as it is about who broke into the home and brutalized Emad's ( Shahab Hosseini) wife, Rana (Taraneh Aldoosti).
Although Emad is obsessed with finding the intruder, Rana seems to be ambivalent and uncertain how to proceed given the many subtle ramifications around truth. The story, mesmerizing in its little twists and turns, eventually turns on discovery and the tyranny of revenge (ask Othello about that one).Yet the pace is deadly slow:
Student: "How do people turn to cows?" Emad: "Gradually!"
Unobtrusive direction is the key to this Foreign Language Oscar winner, whose slow distribution and character revelation could go on without those reveals. But not Emad, who pursues truth like a Greek tragedian, slowly realizing his steps are jeopardizing everyone involved, even the perp. The infamous Iranian spirit of honor is present in a barely hidden form.
Even Farhadi's sets are as tight as his frames, suggesting imprisonment when liberation would seem to be the goal. Farhadi has also framed the story with the husband and wife performing in Death of a Salesman with why Willy is Emad becoming clear at the end.
The Salesman is rich in simple but powerful story, first-rate directing, and allegory waiting to be found. Although it seems Iran's social unrest could be the subject, the broader humanity of going where one should not go and forgiving when it is not obvious why are also prominent. Add to those the figurative trope of leaving well enough alone when exploring someone close, like a wife, rings true for those who have discovered, truth may not set them free.
"Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift / As meditation or the thoughts of love, / May sweep to my revenge" (Hamlet,1.5.29-31).
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