Is Iranian director Asghar Farhadi among the best screenwriters of his generation? I would think so. After winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011 for A separation, his new film Le passé is yet another brilliant film. The story is that of Ahmad(Ali Mosaffa) travelling from Tehran to Paris to finalize his divorce from Marie (Cannes best actress winner Bérénice Bejo). Marie lives with her new boyfriend Samir (Un prophète‘s Tahar Rahim), his son, Fouad, and her two daughters, young Léa and teenage Lucie. Ahmad maintains a good relation with his ex-wife but soon finds out something is troubling the family. After a suicide attempt, Samir’s wife is comatose in the hospital. What happened? Ahmad tries to find out why everybody’s on edge. This makes him the central character. Iranian actor Ali Mosaffa plays a gentle, and kind man seeking to make the people he loves happy. It’s a delicate and subtle performance. Marie is a woman trying to navigate a sinking ship and Bejo does the character justice to the assertive but overwhelmed woman. Only her diction can be at times problematic. Tahar Rahim plays well with his partners, and at the end shines when Samir takes centre stage. Elyes Aguis’ Fouad is a little monster/distraught little boy. What was impressive about A separation’s screenplay was its structure. Let me call it Hitchcockian. A typical Hitchcock film constantly changes focus, follows one character, then switches to others, choosing what to hide or reveal. This concept is what make A separation exciting and fresh and, yes, suspenseful. A few times in Le Passé , Farhadi uses the point of view of a character as a storytelling device just as Hitchcock did. Le passé is dialogue driven. This is Farhadi’s first French film. With the help of Massoumeh Lahidji for the French language, he creates beautiful conversations laying out the characters fears and sence of helplessness. Every word, it seems, is written with much care and love. By the film’s end, we feel and share the characters’ emotions and pains. To see!
Le passé (The past)
In French and Persian with English subtitles.