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Le Passé
The Past
★★★★☆
First run Theater cinema

With Le Passé, his sixth film, Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi (The Beautiful City, Fireworks Wednesday, About Elly) continues his streak as one of my favorite contemporary filmmakers. While the movie lacks the sociological complexity and intrigue of Farhadi’s 2011 Oscar winner A Separation, this family drama delves as insightfully into the emotional core of its characters as any of his previous work. Farhadi weaves his usual tapestry of complicated relationship dynamics, but this time he sets his film outside of Iran. Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) plays Marie Brisson, a Parisian mother of two who’s separated from her husband Ahmad and living with her new lover, Samir, and his young son.  Ahmad returns from Iran to finalize his divorce from Marie so she can marry Samir, but when he arrives, he’s unexpectedly drawn back into the parental role he left behind. All of the characters are sympathetic, decent people, but the poisonous behaviors and terrible secrets that destroy so many couples and families threaten to tear them apart too. Over the course of the picture, we slowly untangle and explore the knotty connections between the members of this unusual family. While the film never feels contrived or overly melodramatic, each new revelation contains explosive potential. Farhadi’s camera never draws attention to itself, which allows the intimate performances of his actors, adults and kids alike, to resonate with truth and vitality. As in many of his movies, the characters lack essential information for understanding the predicaments in which they find themselves. In Le Passé, they eventually receive answers to their questions, but the knowledge itself doesn’t solve their problems. Farhadi’s insightful observation seems to be that even if we understand our past, it’s our choices in the present that define us.  

Directed by Asghar Farhadi
Produced by Alexandre Mallet-Guy

Written by Asghar Farhadi

With: Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis, Jeanne Jestin, Sabrina Ouazani, and Babak Karimi

Cinematography: Mahmoud Kalari
Editing: Juliette Welfling
Music: Evgueni Galperine and Youli Galperine

Runtime: 130 min
Release Date: 17 May 2013
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Color