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The Salesman

'The Salesman' (2016)

This movie has had a lot of praise recently, so I was interested to see if it lived up to the hype. Asghar Farhadi places us in the lives of a contemporary Iranian couple who go through an ordeal which forces them to make a few important decisions. The film therefore explores elements of morality, fate, death and 'karmic balance' for want of a better phrase. It is also about marriage breakdown, and the different roles of men and women in society. Farhadi masterfully manages to make us question each of these roles and what we really should be perceiving in each of our own societies. The backdrop of both the school and the play engineers these thoughts into our minds, and I'm not sure there is a better Director out there at doing these types of unsettling psychological real life pieces.

It's an interesting revenge tale that intertwines Arthur Miller's play 'Death of a Salesman' with a similar real life quandry, and the resemblance of the play and the movie's plot is familiar, but not so similar that it causes the movie to lose focus. The performances, as with most of Farhadi's films are tremendous. The lead couple are absolutely captivating, and deserve all the praise they get. It was noticeable that the cast is also not too large. There are only a few characters which helps to create a little claustrophobic world.

There were similarities in tone and atmosphere to Farhadi's 'A Separation' which is no bad thing. Unsettling sequences, lack of score, eerie silences, drab buildings all help to make sure we are transported to the environment that the couple face.

The film's pacing is also a plus, and the tension just builds and builds into the climax that Farhadi uses very well to make his point. If I had to point out one flaw it was that the set of their play looked vastly expensively assembled considering it was an amateur dramatic production but that would be missing the point a bit.

I'd recommend this film to anyone who enjoys suspenseful, analogy driven dramas. Farhadi is a gem of a director.