Getting a glimpse of everyday life inside Iran is not exactly the easiest thing to accomplish, just ask the three American hikers that spent a couple of years behind bars for simply crossing the border into the country. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and "open door policy" have never been placed within the same sentence until this very moment.
Leave it to film to provide us with a peek, A Separation tears down the walls and delivers one of the most powerfully minimalistic experiences you'll see on-screen.
Set in Tehran, Nader (a brilliant Peyman Maadi) and Simin (a forceful Leila Hatami) are a middle-class married couple of 14 years that are yes, considering going their separate ways. Simin wants to take their daughter Termeh and hit the nearest road leading out of Iran but there's one slight issue, Nader is tied-down by his live-in father who's stricken with Alzheimer's. Simin's exodus from the home leads to a lower-class caretaker coming in and suddenly all parties involved have life-altering consequences thrust upon them.
What makes A Separation so extraordinary is its raw emotional impact accomplished through a bare bones approach - there's not a moment of music until its final shot.
Director Asghar Farhadi has created a film that packs a level of tension that the majority of Hollywood blockbusters can't come close to touching. It's all done through a sensational script that more than understands how to up the stakes effectively and in a fashion that has you questioning how things are going to conclude well beyond its finish.
A Separation is a case study in how simplicity can produce spectacular results that extend far beyond a film's budget. It's one of 2011's finest films of any genre and a virtual lock for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.