The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 123 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): Persian/Farci, French DTS-HD 3.0 Master Audio
Starring: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayet, Sarina Farhadi, Babak Karimi
Written & Directed by: Ashgar Farhadi
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 21, 2012
Set in contemporary Iran, A SEPARATION is a compelling drama about the dissolution of a marriage. Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader and daughter Termeh. Simin sues for divorce when Nader refuses to leave behind his Alzheimer's-suffering father. Her request having failed, Simin returns to her parents' home, but Termeh decides to stay with Nader. When Nader hires a young woman to assist with his father in his wife's absence, he hopes that his life will return to a normal state. However, when he discovers that the new maid has been lying to him, he realizes that there is more on the line than just his marriage.
I saw the trailer for A separation and was immediately drawn in by it. Coming from a broken home I identified with the subject matter and from what I could tell the performances and plot looked interesting. Writer/director Ashfhar Farhadi uses deliberate pacing and a fly on the wall perspective to tell this very human story about familial strife and how sometimes in life the simplest things can quickly escalate into life changing situations. This drama revolves around an Iranian couple Nader, and Simin, that are going through marital problems that center around the fact that Simin wants to live abroad to provide better opportunities for their daughter, Termeh. Nader refuses to go because he feels an obligation to stay in Iran to take care of his Alzheimer stricken father who lives with them. The couple can’t come to an amicable solution so they go before a magistrate/arbitrator where requests Simin a divorce. His determination is that based upon the circumstances there is no foundation for her request, it is denied and they should go home and work it out. Frustrated, Simin moves out and leaves her Termeh, who didn’t want to leave, with Nader.
Since Simin was the primary caregiver for Nader’s father he now has to find someone to watch him during the day while he is working and Termeh is at school. Nader hires Razieh, a friend of a friend of Simin’s who initially agrees to do it. Razieh soon discovers that Nader’s father requires more care than expected and the long trip from her house to Nader’s isn’t worth it especially since she has to bring her young daughter back and forth with her. Razieh conveys this to Nader who convinces her to continue for the time being. Razieh suggests that Nader hire her out of work husband Hojjat to take her place. The series of events that follow result in criminal allegations being brought against Nader based upon circumstantial evidence that may or may not be born of a lie. The web soon becomes very tangled. At the end of the day the truth will prevail but the real question is at what cost?
I really don’t want to divulge too many details regarding what occurs because the way it plays out is what makes this film so special. On the surface this is a fairly simple story about very ordinary people faced with challenges that aren’t uncommon. It’s the unraveling that can occur from the simplest of circumstances gone bad that turn ordinary people into something else entirely. I found it thoroughly engrossing with a resonating narrative and genuinely drawn characters. As a foreign made film the cultural, social, judicial and religious differences further pique interest as some of their elements play an integral role in the proceedings. The casting and direction is simply marvelous. A separation took home the 2011 Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Language film.
What starts out as a dramatic domestic portrait evolves into a complex story that speaks to the human condition via a densely drawn landscape with morally provocative questions and emotive familial themes that beat to a culturally different but universal drum. I loved it.
The rating is for mature thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
A separation comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 3.0 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.3 Mbps.
This high definition presentation is on par with other new release films of its type and generally looked great. Colors are natural looking with a pleasing and reserved quality that remained within the scope required by the settings and clothing featured in the film. Flesh tones vary somewhat but most offers little complexional differences which appears to coincide with the film’s geographical setting. Contrast is stable with solid blacks and estimable shadow detail. Images are detailed and crisp, with definable lines and appreciable dimension. While I noticed sporadic occasions where resolution fluctuated slightly this appeared innate to the photography and never called fidelity into question. The video is rendered well and doesn’t show any overt signs of compression related anomalies or video artifacts.
The DTS-HD MA soundtrack delivers dialogue that is crisp, tonally descriptive and well articulated. The front three channels handily convey the soundtrack’s elements via an open soundstage that features excellent clarity and imaging.
- Commentary with writer/director Asghar Farhadi
- (HD) An evening with Asghar Farhadi – 30 minute Q&A
- Birth of a director – 8 minute interview with Asghar Farhadi
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
A separation comes from the mind of writer/director Asghar Farhadi and is a superbly crafted dramatic film that speaks to the human condition via a densely drawn landscape with morally provocative questions and emotive familial themes that beat to a culturally different but universal drum. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring gratifying high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and insightful supplemental material. I thoroughly enjoyed A separation and give it my highest recommendation.
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