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: Footnote

Footnote_(poster_art)The intricacy of the father-son relation meets the bitterness of a self-obsessed unrecognized genius: this is what the highly critically acclaimed film “Footnote” comprises. Among myriad of comedic moment of the film, the darkness of ambivalence, the reticent love and affection and the vociferated wrath, all are co-mingled with a touch of distant indifference and that was turned the work from a intense drama set in the world of academics, to a relatable humane effort.

While one cannot fail to notice that the story is full of oxymoronic elements: such as the exposure of rivalry and acerbity amid the pristine-looking whitehead academicians, the envy of the father to his son’s success who to the contrary upholds him as his inspiration; the private disdain confronts the publicly showing affection of the son, never finding the recognition of his own father while the world approves of him; all in all the film is there to stay with its viewer, not to prove a point, not to ram it home with intense drama, but as a bitter-sweet taste that does not go away.

Film Review: Heartbeats (Les Amours Imaginaires)

Xavier_Dolan_HeartbeatsXavier Dolan is one of the most promising film-makers of recent time. With his first film I killed my mother he showed the prospect of turning out sincere dramatist on the silver screen. With his second outing as director, in Heartbeats or Les Amours Imaginaires, Dolan depicts another emotion laden drama of friendship and love and other tributaries of the quasi-amorous relations.

Francis and Marie, two friends, meets Nicolas in a party and both of them felt attracted to the charming young man whose sexuality is not evident. The film goes on telling us the story where both of them pursue Nicolas as his and her lover, trying to build an image of him within their own mind according to one’s own convenience. They find other partners for sexual gratification, thus baring the emotional bankruptcy in the age of easy promiscuity. The generation to which Dolan himself belongs, is a generation fatigued by making love without loving and thus it is portrayed not with indifference or with hostility, but with care, how this generation flails for love all the same. Perhaps this is the strongest trait of the film.

While making a film on a subject somewhat hackneyed by overuse by all the other directors over the years, Dolan remains true to his own strength of story-telling with tinge of experimental form. His use of humour is restrained and hence effective. The use of background music especially in a scene where Bach’s cello song was playing on the back, it truly elevated the film in totality. So Heartbeat should be watched not only to observe the signatures of a young promising film-maker on the silver-screen, but also to watch a very fresh take on a subject we all thought we have left behind.

Film Review: Detachment

“I realized something. I’m a non-person, Sarah. You shouldn’t be here, I’m not here. You may see me, but I’m hollow.”

Sometimes an experience can devastate you to an extent that the time holds it breath and the moments come to a standstill until the devastation is utter. Watching a film like ‘Detachment’ is such a powerful experience.

While it is convenient that a film is supposed to concentrate on a single aspect, or a single character, Detachment, almost resolutely refuses to do so. The film opens up with the confessions of a few apparently everyday teachers who reveal their discontent about the system. Next the film portrays the central character’s (portrayed by Adrien Brody) personal afflictions in a surreal lyrical fashion, while also depicting the world around him: deliberately entangling into subplots and making apparent minor characters significant. Adrien Brody, a full-time substitute teacher roams around from one school to another working for a few days to months until the new assignment comes. At night, he trudges the gritty streets of Newark, afflicted by his agony and state of gloom. His station in life as a floating ‘flaneur’is not just the typical commitment phobia described in the Hollywood films for millions of times. Rather it is his way to remain sane: his detachment is his armory. A few glimpses of his anguished childhood, his visit to his grandfather in the nursing home: everything reveals and yet encloses some of the darkness his carries. Eventually he meets three women: first a very young prostitute whom he reluctantly gives shelter, next a student of his class victimized by the beauty myth and male-chauvinism of the society and finally a fellow teacher who is apparently the epitome of perfection in a chaotic world.

I am money, I change hands like the dollar bill, that has been rubbed by a lamp; Then a genie appeared and cried loudly, with volume; But the tears were all for myself, and that’s where it all went wrong

220px-Detachment_posterThe film features how the society victimizes the teachers; how the teachers, frail individuals in their own domain try their best to cope with the pressure and violence; how the racial-patriarchal-violent-consumerist hegemonies spill over into the small worlds of small men trying their best to fit into a world that is not compatible to their well-being. The ensemble cast is used to best of their potential. Lucy Liu’s ironic expression and finally breaking down, Marcia Gay Hayden’s precarious position of being the matriarch when things are falling apart, James Caan’s way to cope through the method of being cynically funny: nothing seemed out of necessary for this dark narrative to unfold.

“Whatever is on my mind, I say it as I feel it, I’m truthful to myself; I’m young and I’m old, I’ve been bought and I’ve been sold, so many times. I am hard-faced, I am gone. I am just like you.”

It is almost impossible not to succumb to the temptation of giving one quote after another from the film. The lyrical monologues of the central character, the hallucinogenic camera-work, the embroidery of emotions spilling into the separation sequences shortened by jump-cuts as if the characters are trying to live those moments faster: all are woven into such a wondrous tale that one wonders, long after he finishes watching the film if something within him still palpitating with agony.