A Separation, Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi’s fifth film, has, like his previous work, been received well as it toured film festivals and arthouses around the world. But this intimate drama about a Tehran couple’s legal and familial strife has tapped into something deeper, as the kudos and acclaim and even the box office (for a subtitled film) have demonstrated. Winner of the best foreign language film prize at the Golden Globes (and from the National Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review, so on and so on), A Separation landed two Academy Award nominations this week: for best foreign language film, and best original screenplay.
Reached in Los Angeles on the Friday before he nabbed his Golden Globe, and speaking through a translator (and correcting the translator when he didn’t get the Farsi-to-English exchanges exactly right!), Farhadi says that he hasd’t been prepared for this kind of response.
“I had no expectation that audiences, especially outside of Iran, would receive this movie this well,” he explains. “I imagined that the level of reception and positive reviews would be similar to my previous films…. Those movies, my previous movies, were very successful in the festival arena, but this one is unique – it seems to be very popular with the people, too. “
And does he have a theory as to why?
“There are several elements, I think," he says. "The movie has a story, it has drama. It has a realistic language. It’s probably the mixture of realism and drama that is attractive to audiences.”