His latest film, ‘Nader and Simin: a separation’ has won numerous international and domestic awards, and puts director Asghar Farhadi in the top rank of Iranian film makers. The story brings to the surface two old wounds. The first is the pull on middle class parents to move to the West for the sake of the children’s future, versus the obligation to stay and look after their own parents. In this story the wife, Simin, is adamant the family must leave, but the husband, Nader, refuses to abandon his father who has Alzheimer’s. Incensed, Simin applies for a divorce which the judge rejects. Simin still leaves, to stay with her mother. With perhaps four million Iranians living abroad, it is likely that this issue has caused havoc in many marriages.
Left alone with his daughter, Nader has to find someone to care for his father. And here the other wound between the urban more Westernized middle classes, and the more traditional and religious working classes appears. This climaxes in a much more serious court case with Nader accused of causing a miscarriage to the poor working class woman he has employed to look after his father. At the end we see Nader and Simin’s quiet and studious daughter Termeh. Her dream of her parents coming back together in the aftermath of the court case does not happen. The irony of the mother’s obsession with her daughter’s future ending with Termeh being another victim of a divorce is sad and obvious.
The film is a good reminder to all who pray for Iran that many of the tensions are not always political or highly sensational, but very ordinary. But ordinary tensions, without the oil of God’s agape love, can cause extraordinary pain.
• Marriages to always come before the future of children
• The old not to be abandoned
• The rich to show compassion on the poor