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Le Passé (The Past) by Asghar Farhadi

November 30, 2013


After four years Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) is coming back to France – the country he left to return to his homeland Iran – to divorce his wife Marie (Bérénice Bejo), she wants a divorce because now she is in a new important relationship, but the arrival of Ahmad – like a new piece in a puzzle – will provoke a reassessment of what is going on in Marie’s life. I dislike summarizing the plot of a film though it is necessary doing it when you review a film – in the realm of narrative cinema the story has to be the starting point when you try to understand/explain a film – bur Farhadi’s plots tend to be hard to summarize, the starting point – here the Iranian man coming to France to divorce his French wife – is only the beginning of a downward spiral or – if you want – a simple melodic line who will be developed in a series of variations during the film. In the opening scene Marie is at the airport waiting for Ahmad checking out of customs, when she sees him they are separated by a wall of glass – so he cannot hear her voice – and there is no eye contact, but she manages to get the attention of another traveler to make Ahmad aware of her presence: Le Passé will be a two hours reworking of this scene/theme.


A visionary director like Fellini always refused to work outside of Italy, he felt his cinema could not work outside of his country, Le Passé represents the first experience outside of Iran for Farhadi, a bold move for a director with a grounded into reality style whose trademark is a deep and astute observation of the society where the story takes place, About Elly or A Separation put on display such Farhadi’s ability and the fascination with his work in the Occidental world had unavoidably much to do with it, with our curiosity for a far and mysterious country, though Farhadi has lived two years in France before shooting Le Passé you will gather no insight into French society watching this film – it is set in France but it could be any other European country – it is not universality of the European experience, but the absence of the latter to cause that the endless variations mechanism of Farhadi’s scenario will work in a void, like a car whose wheels are separated from the ground. The actors are good, Farhadi makes and interesting work with the sound, he keeps his camera steady and uses a lot of shot/countershot but the best part of his former films is missing.

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