Review: ‘The Past’ 9.2.14

(The following is a reprint of my review written on 2.14.14)

I just might wind up having to include this on my “top 10 of 2014” list, even though it was released in 2013 and was Iran’s official selection for this year’s Academy Awards (how it didn’t garner a nomination is beyond me). First, let me just say, I love the stories that Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi chooses to explore. As some of you may recall – his feature prior to this, “A Separation”, landed a #2 spot on my list of favorite films of 2011. I would say the material he chooses to depict and the stories he tells are most closely aligned with writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, whom I’m sure you’re familiar with (and if you’re not…Well, then I just feel sorry for you). It’s amazing how in Farhadi’s first 2 films, like Innaritu’s, I so closely identify with what he’s exploring. Specifically that of human relationships and what kinds of adversities we face. He brings such a naturalistic, raw, powerful, and most importantly, human element to his films that it’s hard not to have nothing but the utmost admiration for them. I really feel what his characters feel and think much in the same way they do. Which I think is the beauty and power of cinema if done correctly. The degree to which a film is relatable. This only comes along every so often because it’s so hard to capture right. But here, he absolutely nails it to a T.

The film itself involves a man returning to Paris to sign a divorce decree from his wife. While back, he sees not only the affect his absence has had on his children but also how his prescence affects the relationship of his former wife’s new husband. Not only that, but the new husband (an outstanding performance from ‘A Prophet’s’ Tamar Rahim) has a past of his own and hidden secrets are unlocked and exposed along the way. A very engaging and impeccably paced adult drama that plays out almost like a thriller, this is one that I would highly encourage you see with my utmost approval.

Grade: A-

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