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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Forushande (aka The Salesman) (2016)

A teacher and actor (Shahab Hosseini, who won the Cannes film festival best actor award for his work here) and his actress wife (Taraneh Alidoosti) are performing in a production of Arthur Miller's DEATH OF A SALESMAN. But after his wife is brutally attacked, their marriage tenses up and the husband seems bent on revenge. Directed by Asghar Farhadi (A SEPARATION), this is Iran's entry in this year's Foreign Language Oscar race. It's an unsettling experience because you never know where Farhadi is leading us. You know he's too talented a director to go down the straight revenge movie route, DEATH WISH this isn't. The "attack" is ambiguous because we never see it, it's done off screen. So we're never really quite sure what transpired. Was it a rape? An assault? An unintentional accident? Or was there even an actual attack? As the film methodically moves towards its final scenes (which Farhadi paces far too slowly), we're placed in the position of questioning our empathy and since we're never really sure of what exactly happened (the wife is reticent to discuss it, the "attacker" may or may not be lying), Farhadi doesn't allow us to choose sides. We just watch in horror as everything goes downhill. Provocative and complex, it's the kind of film that demands much of the audience. Sadly, Farhadi is banned from attending the Oscar ceremonies with the new anti-Muslim ban in place. With Farid Sajadhosseini, Babak Karimi and Mina Sadati. 

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