Private Lives 

The Subtle Sophistication of The Past

THE PAST At last, a Three's Company for the arthouse set!

THE PAST At last, a Three's Company for the arthouse set!

WRITER/DIRECTOR Asghar Farhadi captured the world's attention with A Separation, winning Iran's first-ever Oscar for best foreign language film in 2012. If A Separation was best described as a domestic drama, his latest, The Past, shares the category—and further reinforces Farhadi's uncanny ability to build deep investment in his audience by calmly stacking small, private, even trivial elements into an unexpectedly curious whole. It's an exercise that's less about whatever grandiose truths may finally emerge than in finding wonder in the unique oddities of relationships.

If anything, The Past inches closer to traditional dramatic subject than its predecessor. It begins as a love triangle of sorts: Marie (Bérénice Bejo) has summoned her estranged husband Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) from Tehran to her home in Paris to finalize their divorce. Although it's questionable whether Marie ever informed him of her direct motive (the suspect nature of email delivery is a touchstone throughout the film), she's become serious with Samir (Tahar Rahim), who has moved into the ramshackle house on the city's outskirts that's shared by Marie and her two daughters, young Léa (Jeanne Jestin) and sulky teen Lucie (Pauline Burlet). Samir also has a boy around Léa's age, Fouad (Elyes Aguis), who simmers with unhappiness.

We enter the gradually unfolding complexities of Marie's household along with Ahmad, continually pressed into awkward positions while simultaneously called upon to be the voice of reason. When it's revealed that Samir has a wife, too—albeit one who's in a coma—the film develops a layer of whodunit mystery while remaining in the province of emotions and personal matters rather than crimes of public interest.

The deftness with which Farhadi draws the viewer in is rare and delicate work. That, coupled with an almost nonchalant multiculturalism, makes him among the most sophisticated filmmakers working today.

The Past
Rated PG-13 · 130 minutes · 2014
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Producer: Alexandre Mallet-Guy
Cast: Bérénice Bejo, Ali Mosaffa, Tahar Rahim, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis, Jeanne Jestin, Sabrina Ouazani, Babak Karimi, Valeria Cavalli, Aleksandra Klebanska and Jean-Michel Simonet

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for The Past

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Comments are closed.

From the Archives

More by Marjorie Skinner

Most Commented On

Top Viewed Stories

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC

115 SW Ash St. Suite 600
Portland, OR 97204

Contact Info | Privacy Policy | Production Guidelines | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy