The Best Films of the Decade: #20. A Separation (2011)

| December 22, 2019
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In just 10 Days the decade will come to a close and so for movie lovers like me it is an opportunity to look over the decade of movies that are left behind. Over the next few weeks I am going to countdown the best films of the past 10 years from #40 to #1. My choices are personal choices swayed by nothing but the love I have for this medium. These are all great movies. These films all achieved something great. All reached for something special. They are the best of the decade . . .

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Okay, so despite all of it awards and accolades (including an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film) I’m going to admit sheepishly that I came to A Separation a few years late.  I’m sorry that I did because I’m the guy who usually loves great character studies, particularly when they take place in another culture.

A Separation is a great human drama with the kind of rich narrative structure that you only find in a great book.  It has all kinds of corner and edges and extra detail that great drama is made of.  In this case, an Iranian couple Nader and Simin whose domestic issues are pulling them apart, especially their quarrel over living abroad.  Simin wants to move to Europe to provide a better life for their daughter while Nader wants to stay in Iran to stay with his elderly father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

They hire a caregiver but he cannot come so his wife, in secret, substitutes for him.  However, that leads to a problem because the religious practices forbid her from putting hands on a man who isn’t her husband.  But she does so because they need the money.  This is a movie very much about personal choices, about the conundrums present in all marriage however this is a very uniquely Iranian film, dealing with issues and practices that are observed and argued over.  It’s the kind of movie that you debate when it is over because there are no villains in this story.  It is people who have to make choices and the events and customs that prevent them from doing what they know is right.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
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