Film Review: Asghar Farhadi’s ‘The Past’ Finds Resonance Through Subtlety of Human Interaction

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

Filmgoers may bash the January to October movie fare for being boisterous, obnoxious, directed by Michael Bay, etc. However, even during the supposedly tasteful sanctuary that is the award season of November to January, those films themselves can be lumped together to sponsor their own lack of subtlety. That is not to say these films aren’t as good as they are, but only that after seeing numerous movies which could be weaseled into sarcastic “Tropic Thunder” previews (looking at you, “Saving Mr. Banks”), the yearly accusation of certain films “trying too hard” to become “Oscar bait” proves to be a “Transformers”-like inundation in itself. Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

In the second big weekend of 2014 arrives “The Past,” a leftover from last year but one just opening on Friday in Chicago. For those who are looking for something that doesn’t “try too hard,” but with an even bigger pay-off on a more humbled scale, “The Past” should be necessary medication. And though it would be great in the context of any time of the film year, it is a movie with a strong deliberate sense from its storyteller, “A Separation” writer/director Asghar Farhadi, who has control of his characters and the course he sets them on, but absolutely most importantly, that of himself. For one, there is no gratuitous dramatic explosion of questionable sincerity to be witnessed in this movie, and yet two days later, a shot of two hands in “The Past” hasn’t left my mental list of trending topics.

StarRead Nick Allen’s full review of “The Past” in our reviews section.

While its title is probably its most blunt force, “The Past” begins by presenting human beings in what seems to be a very mundane setting, with the pacing of a careful city drive segmented by numerous traffic stop meditations. Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) travels from Iran to France to meet up with his ex-wife Marie (Berenice Bejo). Marie has two daughters, the young Lea (Jeanne Jestin) and high-schooler Lucie (Pauline Burlet), who are not Ahmad’s biological children.

Though it has been four years since their separation, Marie needs Ahmad’s signature to finalize their divorce, so that she may get married to her current boyfriend Samir (Tahar Rassim). Along with her two daughters, Marie lives with Samir and his son Fouad (Elyes Aguis), a child from the wife of Samir’s current marriage, Celine. With Celine’s depression having driven Samir away, she now lays alone in a hospital bed, comatose after a disturbing public act.

StarContinue reading for Nick Allen’s full “The Past” review.

‘The Past’ stars Berenice Bejo and Tahar Rahim. It was written and directed by Asghar Farhadi. It opens in Chicago on January 10, 2014. It is rated PG-13. content director Brian Tallerico

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