Forušande (The Salesman)

The title of Asghar Farhadi’s latest Oscar-winning drama refers to Arthur Miller’s play Death Of A Salesman, of which we see snippets (rehearsals, and then later, performances). Some of Miller’s themes feed into this film’s overarching narrative, which concerns two of the actors in the play, Emad and Rana, a married couple; on the face of it they have a good, solid relationship, though the opening prologue – in which their apartment building is evacuated before it begins to collapse – hints at problems to come. Their subsequent relocation into another flat sets in motion a chain of unpleasant and unfortunate events that tests their union, reveals certain aspects of Emad’s character that weren’t immediately obvious and suggests much to the foreign viewer about attitudes toward women and expected behaviour of men and women in modern Iran. It feels like there’s a lot of subtle comment in the film that an Iranian audience might more readily pick up on, so I’d love to watch this with a commentary track in the future, but it’s still an excellent, intriguing and well-acted drama nonetheless. Farhadi regulars Shahab Hosseini (A Separation) and Taraneh Alidoosti (About Elly) do particularly well in the lead roles, delivering convincing performances that mostly make you believe in their characters, their decisions and their actions. And I didn’t find the final act hampered credibility, as some others seem to have done.(****)