Title: The Past
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Tahar Rahim, Bérénice Béjo, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis, Jeanne Jestin, Sabrina Ouazani, Babak Karmi, Valeria Cavalli.
‘The Past’ is Iran’s official selection for the 86th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was officially selected in 2013 at the Cannes Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. The female protagonist, Bérénice Béjo won the Best Actress Award in Cannes.
Just like in Farhadi’s Oscar-winning ‘A Separation,’ his latest film is a bewitchingly sculpted family melodrama in which the end of a marriage is solely the trigger that leads to old and new crossroads.
After four years Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) returns to Paris from Tehran to sign the divorce papers with his wife Marie (Bérénice Bejo), so that she may marry her new boyfriend Samir (Tahar Rahim). During his brief stay, Ahmad discovers the conflicting nature of Marie’s relationship with her teenage daughter Lucie (Pauline Burlet), and his efforts to smoothen out the tensions between the two will unveil a secret from their past.
Farhadi weaves a meticulous tapestry of carefully engineered discoveries and deeper human truths. The orchestration of his characters shapes the sense of narrative construction, maintaining a microscopic attention to truthfulness, drawing some theatrical archaic mechanisms. Ahmad’s character is the deus ex machina who unleashes a series of revelations that would otherwise have been buried. But it’s all for the better. He is the only adult figure who doesn’t have children of his own, but seems to be the one to be parenting younger and older characters, enforcing the importance of taking responsibilities.
The entire story is a great parable of how these contemporary hectic times, dim-out the past. The future is blurred because it’s unknown. But the past, which somehow affects it, may often be more unclear and opaque. We try to move on, without treasuring the teachings left by our past, that forged us into who we are in the present. The past’s shadow weighs on us and holds us back, and this is the reason why Farhadi, through the excellent performance of his actors (Tahar Rahim, Bérénice Béjo, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis, Jeanne Jestin, Sabrina Ouazani, Babak Karmi, Valeria Cavalli) and a remarkably stifling cinematography (Mahmoud Kalari), delivers to the audience this precious lesson.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi