Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi
|A Separation is a 2011 Iranian drama film written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, starring Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, and Sarina Farhadi. It focuses on an Iranian middle class couple who separate, and the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower class caretaker for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.|
A Separation won the 84th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, becoming the first Iranian film to win the award. It received the Golden Bear for Best Film and the Silver Bears for Best Actress and Best Actor at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, becoming the first Iranian film to win the Golden Bear. It also won the 69th Golden Globe Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film. The film was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award, a rare occurrence for a foreign language film.
Nader and Simin have been married for 14 years and live with their 11-year-old daughter Termeh in Tehran. The family belongs to the urban upper middle-class and the couple is on the verge of separation. Simin wants to leave the country with her husband and daughter, as she does not want Termeh to grow up under the prevailing conditions. This desire is not shared by Nader. He is concerned for his elderly father, who lives with the family and suffers from Alzheimer's disease. When Nader decides to stay in Iran, Simin files for divorce.
The family court judges the couple's problems insufficient to warrant divorce and rejects Simin's application. Simin leaves her husband and daughter and moves back in with her parents. On the recommendation of his wife, Nader hires Razieh, a young, deeply religious woman from a poor suburb, to take care of his father while he works at a bank. Razieh has applied for the job without consulting her hot-tempered husband Hodjat, whose approval, according to tradition, would have been required. Her family is financially dependent on the work, and she takes her daughter to the house with her.
Razieh soon becomes overwhelmed by taking care of Nader's father, which is physically and emotionally demanding. On the first day of work, when she finds that the old man is incontinent, she phones a religious hotline to ask if it would be a sin for her to clean him. Assured that it would be acceptable, she continues in the job, but later hopes to get her husband into the position, without revealing that she had first worked there. She finds the work very heavy, especially as she is pregnant. Nader interviews Hodjat and hires him, but Hodjat, who is heavily in debt, is jailed by his creditors on the day he is due to start, and so Razieh returns to work for Nader.
Whilst Razieh is cleaning, Nader's father wanders out of the apartment. Razieh runs to find him, and sees him at a newsstand from across a busy road.
The next day, Nader and Termeh return to an empty house. Termeh discovers her grandfather lying unconscious on the floor in his bedroom, with one of his arms tied to the bed. When Razieh returns, an argument ensues between her and Nader. He tells her to leave after accusing her of having stolen money from his room (unbeknownst to Nader, Simin was shown taking the money in an earlier scene to pay movers). Razieh returns to protest her innocence, and to request her payment for the day's work. Outraged, Nader shoves Razieh out of the apartment. She falls in the stairwell and hurries out of the building. Hodjat's sister later calls Simin to inform her that Razieh is in the hospital, and they discover that she has suffered a miscarriage.
A court is assigned to determine the cause of the miscarriage and Nader's potential responsibility for it. If it is proved that Nader knew of Razieh's pregnancy and caused the miscarriage, he could be sentenced to one to three years imprisonment for murder. Much of the film revolves around this issue. Nader accuses Razieh of neglecting his father. The hot-headed and aggressive Hodjat physically confronts Nader on several occasions, and threatens him, his family, and Termeh's teacher, who testifies on Nader's behalf. When Hodjat is sent out of a court hearing for an outburst, Razieh reveals that he is deeply depressed, and that he is taking antidepressants for these issues. Nader learns from Razieh's young daughter that the reason she was absent the day Nader came home early was because she had gone with Razieh to see a doctor, which Razieh had avoided revealing earlier. This news, combined with Hodjat's explosive temper, causes Nader to wonder if Hodjat is physically abusive to Razieh and had caused her miscarriage.
Termeh protects her father with a false statement and Simin, fearing for her daughter's safety, attempts to arrange a financial deal with Razieh and Hodjat, to compensate them for the loss of their unborn child. Nader is initially outraged by Simin's suggestion that they pay Razieh and Hodjat, as he feels that it would be an admission of guilt. The morality of all of the characters is called into question as it is revealed that Nader lied about his knowledge of Razieh's pregnancy, and that Razieh has serious doubts as to whether Nader's actions caused the miscarriage. After Razieh had seen Nader's father at the newsstand, she was hit by a car in an attempt to protect him from being hit. Later that same night, she began to experience great pain, likely the beginning of her miscarriage. At one point, Simin plans to come back and live with Nader, knowing that she cannot go anywhere as long as her daughter still stays here. However, after another full-blown argument, Simin changes her mind and forces Termeh to leave with her. Nader tells Termeh that if she does think that he is guilty, she can leave and he will agree to paying Razieh and Hodjat. Termeh slightly hesitates but leaves anyway.
Eventually, everyone, including Hodjat's creditors, meets at the home of Razieh and Hodjat to consummate the payment. Nader, still wary about the true cause of Razieh's miscarriage (and it is likely he does not know about her getting hit by a car) writes the check and slyly says he will give it to Hodjat, on the condition that Razieh swears on the Qur'an that his actions were the cause of her miscarriage. Despite Hodjat's urgings, Razieh cannot bring herself to swear, as she believes it will be a sin that could endanger their daughter. Totally dejected, Hodjat breaks down, hits himself violently and storms out of his homeóNader withholds the money. Nader, Simin, and Termeh leave the house and find their car's windshield broken by an unknown culprit (possibly the angry Hodjat).
The last scene is at the family court, and the three: Nader, Simin, and Termeh, are wearing black, indicative in Persian culture of a death in the family, implying that Nader's father has died. The couple file for a divorce once again, despite Nader no longer having to take care of his father. The judge makes their separation permanent, and asks Termeh about which parent she chooses to live with. She tearfully says that she has made a decision, but asks that the judge tell her parents to wait outside in the hallway before she tells him. Nader and Simin are shown waiting silently and separately in the hallway, on opposite sides of a glass partition, and the credits roll. Termeh's decision is never revealed to the audience.