Le passé (The Past)
Winter 2014 Features series
Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 4:00pm
Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 7:00pm
Directed by Asghar Farhadi
Screenplay by Massoumeh Lahidji and Asghar Farhadi
Starring Ali Mosaffa, Tahar Rahim, and Bérénice Bejo
Rated NR ·
Italy / France
Persian and French
Le passé (The Past)
Following his Academy Award–winning A Separation, director Asghar Farhadi returns with a film that is similar in theme and approach: a couple in conflict with children caught in the middle; attention to class; and a reliance on conversations to examine ethical dilemmas arising from the situation. The setting has been moved from Tehran to Paris—although, under Farhadi’s gaze, France has never looked so much like Iran. And the interchanges that defined his earlier film have become even more intricate and maze-like in The Past.
The story revolves around Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa), who travels to Paris from Tehran to finalize his divorce from his French wife, Marie (Bérénice Bejo, The Artist). Their beautifully depicted greeting at the airport gives way to constant bickering and disagreements, as Ahmad finds that life can never be entirely compartmentalized. No matter how much he tries to remain apart, events conspire to drag him into a series of new emotional involvements. As he discovers that his ex is about to remarry, and that her daughter vehemently objects to this new relationship, Ahmad is gradually drawn back into their lives. Farhadi places this tale of emotional failures and marital collapse against a very specific socio-economic background: the immigrant community struggling to get by in a foreign country.
Exquisitely written, the film is also distinguished by its note-perfect cast (Bejo’s performance won her the Best Actress award at this year’s Cannes). With The Past, Farhadi has proven once again that he is a master at exploring the rich nuances of feelings and words that pass between couples and their children.
“The Past is a finely crafted, sinewy drama that anatomizes clotted and complex relationships. It is an intricate and often brilliant drama, with restrained and intelligent performances; there is an elegantly patterned mosaic of detail, unexpected plot turns, suspenseful twists and revelations.” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
“Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi pursues his exploration of guilt, choice and responsibility in a superbly written, directed and acted drama that commands attention every step of the way. The Past plays like a low-key adagio in the hands of a masterful pianist, who knows how to give every note its just nuance and how every single phrase affects all the rest. A surprisingly dynamic, unsentimental central performance from The Artist’s charming Berenice Bejo should help audiences relate to the tale.” (Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter)