Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
Has some good parts, but is less accomplished than some of the director's previous films
on 7 May 2014
An Iranian man named Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) arrives in France to sign the divorce papers to his French former wife, Marie (played by Berenice Bejo, who was lovely as Poppy in The Artist). He is surprised that Marie wants him to stay in her house instead of booking him into a hotel. But he is more surprised when he learns that he will share that house not only with Marie and her three children (from a previous marriage), but also with her current lover, the Arab Amir (Tahar Rahim). Soon Ahmad learns that Marie's elder daughter, Lucie (Pauline Burlet) hates her, blaming her for the attempted suicide of Amir's wife, who is in a coma. Not going to tell more about the plot, but we are less than halfway into the film, and many more shocking revelations will occur.
This is the fourth film by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi that I have seen (after A Separation, About Elly, and Fireworks Wednesday). All his movies have a remarkably similar structure. We have a few people interacting, usually representing different social classes (or cultures and nationalities, as in this film). Then, halfway into the movie something happens that sheds light, as in a psychodrama and after very heated discussions, the dark secrets and lies of the protagonists.
To me, this film, despite its acclaim at the Cannes film festival, is less accomplished than his previous films. One reason I didn't like this film so much is the fact that the protagonist, Marie, is so relentlessly unlikeable. In past movies, all characters have, despite their flaws, a deep humanity. But here Marie is thoroughly unappealing, selfish, self- centered, manipulative, immature, angry. There is nothing likable about her, but we have to share her antics for more than two hours. This is not a criticism of Bejo's acting, since she plays very well a very unsympathetic character.