'The Past' is deep, but slow
After four years of separation, Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) travels from Tehran to Paris to finalize his divorce from his wife Marie (Bérénice Bejo, “The Artist”) so she can marry her new boyfriend Samir (Tahar Rahim, “A Prophet”). Ahmad and Marie haven't spoken much — he wasn't even aware she was living with another man — and, the moment he steps inside their former home, he feels displaced. He's no longer the head of the household, but he's still compelled to fix the kitchen sink or help with the new paint job. There are three children living in the house, including the teenage Lucie (Pauline Burlet).
As he did in his previous film, the Oscar-winning “A Separation,” Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi takes a simple domestic situation and weaves a complex, absorbing drama that incorporates the point of view of every character (including Samir's inexplicably angry young son, Fouad, played by Elyes Aguis). Unlike “A Separation,” in which Iranian culture and mores played critical roles, the theme in “The Past” is more universal. No one in the movie can fully escape their past, even though they're all trying to. Marie wants to be done with Ahmad (their relationship is civil-but-tense). Lucie is harboring a secret that is pushing her away from her family. Samir, a laundromat owner, walks around under a sullen cloud of unresolved guilt. And even Fouad's temper tantrums and strange behavior are rooted in things his parents would prefer not to talk about.
Farhadi reveals information and backstory slowly. The family's dysfunction initially appears to be a by-product of divorce, but there's more to their discord. The performances are outstanding, particularly Bejo and Rahim.
“The Past” is shaped like a mystery, with Ahmad playing the role of gentle investigator, building to a revelation that only heightens the stress. But the movie is compassionate and humane — and it ends with a closing shot of heartbreaking beauty, a dire symbol of hope and love. And although the adults do most of the talking, the accusatory glance of children who feel they've been wronged fascinates Farhadi the most. “The Past” is about people who wish they could erase what came before and just live in the now, but life doesn't let anyone off the hook that easily.
Rene Rodriguez writes for the Miami Herald.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- DVD reviews: ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie,’ ‘No Escape’ and ‘American Ultra’
- Holidays offer the gift of plenty of new films
- Review: ‘Brooklyn’ is one of the year’s best
- Review: ‘Trumbo’ a breezy, bright tribute to civil liberties
- Review: ‘Victor Frankenstein’ is a mashed-up mess
- Review: Katniss’ saga comes to a fairly satisfying end
- Review: ‘The Night Before’ is an instant Christmas classic: naughty, but nice
- Review: ‘Difret’ clashes ancient ideas with modern freedoms
- Review: ‘Secret in Their Eyes’ doesn’t live up to original
- Review: ‘Spotlight’ illuminates a dogged path to truth
- Review: ‘Creed’ is best Rocky movie since ‘Rocky’