Top positive review
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Intense and emotional drama from Iran.
on 10 February 2013
This is a film from acclaimed director Asghgar Farhadi (`A Separation') and pre dates that, being made in 2009. It is about three middle class families who are going for a long weekend from Tehran to holiday by the Caspian Sea. Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani -`Body of Lies') invites her daughter's teacher Elly to come along, with the ulterior motive of a bit of match making with their recently divorced friend Amhad played by Shahab Hosseini who also featured in `A Separation'.
On arrival they have to take alternative accommodation as Sepideh has got the booking wrong, so they end up in a run down `villa', the sort you see on programmes about holidays from hell. Undeterred they clean it up and start to get down to the serious business of having fun and everyone seems to be getting on really well. However, Elly says she has to go home as her mother is recovering from a heart operation and does not want to leave her alone. Sepideh has other plans and determined to make romance blossom, she hides Elly's bag, meanwhile the children are playing on the beach and Elly is left to watch after them. The next thing is one of the little girls raises the alarm that one of the boys is in the water.
What happens next would be a plot spoiler to say, but the effect of not letting Elly leave cause problems for everyone and the recriminations and blame laying start to snow ball. The more the lies they tell to one another the worse it gets.
This is an extremely well made film; it is both beautifully shot and directed. The acting is all top notch and the camera work is such that it has a fly on the wall feel at times as this was clearly not shot in a studio. The emotions are very intense and whilst it can be off putting to be a voyeur on someone else's grief, this is just more compelling because of it.It is in Iranian with good sub titles, only on my copy they were right at the bottom of the screen making some hard to read, but that in no way detracts from the quality of the film. I am a massive fan of world cinema in all of its guises and this is another example of why that genre will go from strength to strength - highly recommended.