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The Salesman (Persian with English Subtitles)

At the start of the film, Emad and Rana, a married couple, are forced to find a new apartment after the one they are living in begins to collapse due to nearby construction. They move into one whose previous tenant still has possessions there. One night, Rana is assaulted in the apartment after she opens the security door thinking it is Emad. Since Rana does not want to go to the police, Emad hunts down the assailant. I really love the work of this director (Farhadi, who also directed The Past and A Separation); he is a master storyteller who addresses moral and cultural dilemmas in the plots. There is something very universal in Rana’s response to the assault, but that response becomes very nuanced when viewed in the perspective of Islamic culture. The screenplay is even more interesting in that Emad and Rana are both involved in amateur theater and playing the lead roles in Death of a Salesman; the interweaving of their acting life and their lives as they deal with the tragedy is really intriguing. The acting is excellent, especially by the man playing Emad (I think he won Best Actor at Cannes). Big thumbs up from me for a film that I don’t think is quite as good as A Separation but is still quite remarkable as a multilayered revenge film and how it provides insight into life in Tehran. The last third of the movie, in particular, is riveting as Emad continues in his driven pursuit to find and exact revenge on the assailant.

About Gary Burkholder

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