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The most fascinating thing about “A Separation” is not that it is a very good film (it is), but that it has become such a success in the international markets. I believe that every year you have literally dozens of films made in professional and profound film businesses of all parts of the world that are of similar quality, gripping stories professionally processed into credible script and put to the screen by competent staff. Occasionally one gets picked out and highlighted, and for me that is usually inspiration to spend the next days and weeks looking for more … not more Iranian movies necessary (even though there seems to be a lot great stuff, I hear), but more international cinema. Full stop. Not even arthouse or independent – most non-US productions have a budget that qualifies them as low or no budget anyway, if that should count as a quality argument (matter of fact, I believe there are many terrible low budget movies, if only for the fact that there are so many people making low budget movies). No, entertainment, drama, death, love, comedy… whatever it is, international films deserve so much more attention, and A Separation is to be thanked for reminding me of this.

As a story, it  does not even have much going for itself: a straightforward drama set in the a culture that initially we may find hard to comprehend, but the individual characters’ ability or inability to do what they think is right is explained, or rather conveyed, masterly to the audience (which may mean that the film has been written with a specific focus on international audiences – I am sure Iranians would need half the hints and explanations): Husband and wife separate, the daughter suffers and tries to steer against, a sick father needs to be taken care of, help from outside is sought. Something happens. Who is responsible? This is no divorce drama, if you can put any label on it then it is a courtroom drama about guilt, and one of the most admirable characters is the judge who sits like a rock in the center of a storm of emotions and … say … expressive characters and tries to hold the world together. You can learn a lot about family life, the role of women, the judicial system, the schooling … you end up understanding so many things about a country you thought you knew nothing about – and just because a filmmaker told a story. That’s why more international movies should be watched!

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/a_separation_2011/

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