My experience with Iranian cinema is limited to perhaps a dozen films, but I have noticed a trend towards taking a simple premise or a single event and expanding on it to dig deep into societal issues.
A Separation follows suit. A man hires a woman, they have a dispute, she accuses him of causing her miscarriage. We see the court battle that ensues. At the same time, the man is going through an arduous divorce.
The title gives a lot away. This is not just about the separation of husband and wife, but also church and state, organised religion and personal beliefs, rich and poor.
This is little more than a series of discussions and yet it’s compelling to the very last second. The film revels in the fact that nothing is black and white, no one is ever completely bad or good. This gives the viewer an occasionally uneasy feeling. It feels alarmingly realistic.
Much like the Linklater Before Sunrise trilogy, it’s hard to explain exactly what it is that makes this so fascinating. A Separation is not everyone’s cup of tea but if you like to ponder the intricacies of how people interact with each other, then I heartily recommend it.