Film Review: A separation

A_SeparationAny modern day sincere film-viewer cannot but be a fan of intricate neo-realist Iranian dramas. The way the pioneer film-makers like Kiorostami or modern masters like Majidi or Panahi or Fahadi captures intricate drama in the celluloid is not only worth watching but savouring to its last bit. A separation, is a complex drama as well, unlayering the story of through baring different characters  in a magnanimous yet minimalist way.

The film opens with a scene of appeal for separation between the parents of a 11 year old girl whose mother don’t see a future of her daughter and her family in the country, while her father clinges on to whatever he has: his octogenarian invalid father, his meagre existence in an apartment and a regular day job, and his daughter. Somehow the psychology of the middle-class of the entire nation, torn between the wish to flee away and the will to stay and fight, is alluded in a single opening sequence.

The story unfolds more, to involve other characters as he hires a working class guy  to look after his father, only to find his wife to come to his apartment to fill up for him. Thereon, things turn to more complexity, more tragedy, more  commotion and intricacy with incidents precipitating over each other. To the credit of the director, never for once did he try to work with the dichotomy of protagonist and antagonist. Refraining from daubing characters into particular negative or positive light is something not only strengthened this film, but also put the motion into a very fine tune. The inner turmoil of each character is not only palpable throughout the film, but also the strength and weakness of every character, their vulnerability and reciprocity is something almost oozes out of the screen with each turn of camera.

The performance of each actors and actresses is top notch, like you expect in most of these Iranian films which usually heavily really upon the virtuosity of the actors and actresses and they never let the director down. A separation was no exception. The use of child actors in crucial roles is something almost indigenous to Iranian masters and this film is no different in that respect either. So to conclude, I would say that this gem of a film is a must watch, especially for those who cannot live without the works of Iranian masters.

 

Film Review: Chop shop

215px-ChopShop_poster3Ramin Bahrani tells us the story of an America that is excluded and marginalised, an America that lives on the fringes of well-being barely surviving with its handful of resources, an America that does not ridicule the American dream but rather mournfully observes the affluence that pushed it away. Chop shop is the story of that Americatn underbelly, seedy, sordid and gritty.

The twelve year old Alejandro works at the repair shop of New York. Occasionally he has to work as a street hawker or in a ‘chop shop’ (Chop shop is a workshop where a vehicle, often stolen, is dismantled and sold in parts). His sister Izzy works on as a food supplier from a van while at night secretly sells her body in order to earn enough money to rid themselves off the poverty by trying to realize their mutual dream: to own a food supply van.

Eventually, through their hardship they manage to gather enough bucks tho buy a dilapidated van from Ale’s friend Carlos’ uncle only to be informed later that the van is not fit for the purpose and would cost too much to fix. Enraged, he attacks Carlos in public, only to understand the futility of the whole scheme: their endeavours and their dreams, their struggles and their vain attempt of escaping, all are meant to feed another chop shop where every part of their soul is to be broken, shattered, dismantled and sold cheaply as a part of an exorbitant dream.

The way Bahrani approaches the nude and rude realism frame by frame is immensely laudable. One cannot help but observe the effects of the neorealist movement of Iranian masters in the work of this promising film-maker who is, certainly, going to provide many more gems in days to come.