Movie review: A Separation

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

I talk a lot about expectations going into films, how they can make or break a movie, and how hard they are to escape, even as a critic.

"A Separation" was already one of the best reviewed films of last year, and now the Iranian drama can add "Oscar winner" to the poster after taking home Best Foreign Language Film last Sunday.

All of this means my expectations were sky-high. And I was still blown away.

Much of the joy is watching this plot unravel, but here are the basics. A married, middle-class couple in Iran is faced with a dilemma: improve their daughter's life by leaving the country or stay to care for an elderly father with Alzheimer's.

Writer-director Asghar Farhadi has lovingly built a film that is simply stunning. His interweaving of characters in an amazing web of moral dilemmas is absolutely heartbreaking.

In fact, the moral ambiguity of the film is what makes it resonate. There are no clear-cut "good" and "bad" characters, just people trying to make it the best they can in challenging situations, sometimes at the expense of others.

While the political and religious climates of Iran play a role, the film doesn't get bogged down by them. The world these characters inhabit feels foreign, but their feelings bring them close to home.

Now that I've raised your expectations, go see this film.

"A Separation"

Opens Friday

4 stars out of 4