After an earthquake half destroys their apartment, a couple of actors (both are stars of Farhadi’s About Elly) find a new place which was formerly rented by a sketchy woman, whose former “customer” wanders into the place one day and catches the wife alone in the shower. She is traumatized, and too distracted to carry on with the play. Between rehearsals her husband gets annoyed with everybody and tracks down the assailant, an old man, locking him into their old place until he has a panic attack and dies. I assume the moral ambiguity of it all mirrors something in Death of a Salesman, but I’ve really only seen the version in Synecdoche, New York.

Richard Porton in Cinema Scope, a known hater of Farhadi’s The Past:

Both Farhadi and Miller are fond of schematic narratives and cannily deployed didacticism; the strengths and weaknesses of this sort of social realism are crucial to assessing the muddled aesthetic achievement of a film that doesn’t replicate the impact of A Separation, the director’s finest achievement, but avoids the embarrassing histrionics of his previous (and weakest) film, The Past.

I think this is Mina Sadati playing the prostitute – she complains that the play dialogue refers to her having no clothes on, while she’s always wearing a raincoat:

Quite excellent. A twisty secrets-and-lies family drama without any of the twists feeling contrived, and with none of the characters feeling less than sympathetic.

Marie (Berenice Bejo, star of The Artist) gets her separated husband Ahmad back to Paris for a divorce so she can marry Samir (Tahar Rahim, star of A Prophet). Marie’s two daughters and Samir’s son are moody because of family upheaval. But it turns out teenage Lucie (Pauline Burlet, a young Piaf in La Vie en Rose) is also moody because she might be partly responsible for Samir’s current wife being in a coma. Samir’s employee at the dry cleaners (Sabrina Ouazani of a couple Kechiche movies) may also be partly responsible, but some details surrounding her near-suicide remain unknowable at the end.

Beaten out by Blue is the Warmest Color at Cannes, The Great Beauty at the Globes, and something called Me, Myself and Mum at the Cesars. Cinema Scope called it muddled, tedious and inept. “Farhadi’s direction is actually somewhat more serviceable than his writing, if you have a taste for television-style two-shots and bland compositions,” ouch.

Red-haired Simin wants to leave Iran for unspecified (possibly so this movie would not get banned) reasons and take her 11-year-old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi, the director’s daughter), but Simin’s husband Nader won’t leave, has to take care of his senile father. So she wants a divorce to carry out her plan without him.

Intrigue: the new maid Razieh is doing a shitty job watching Nader’s father. When he comes home and sees dad on the floor, tied to the bed and barely breathing, he shoves her out the door – then she and her husband Hodjat sue him for causing her miscarriage. Razieh and Hodjat aren’t a completely unsympathetic couple. He keeps pointing out that he’s less educated than Nader, and has anger issues, so doesn’t stand a chance in legal debate. But his wife turns out to be lying – she was hit by a car while chasing Nader’s escaped father, which caused her miscarriage. Nader isn’t a mean guy, keeps offering a settlement, but Razieh is trying to paint him as a criminal. After the whole ugly court battle is settled, the divorce is still on, and Termeh has to choose which parent she’ll live with, cue the credits.

Good drama, and interesting look at the Iranian legal system (their interrogator is Babak Karimi, an editor who worked on Tickets and Secret Ballot).