FILM REVIEWS

Salesman (Forushande)

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8/10 NR

June 24, 2016

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By Reno July 24, 2017

**When the realistic right and an emotional wrong collides.**

This is one of the last films I watched as I cleared almost all the titles of this year's Oscars. It is a French-Iranian co-production, but selected and won the Academy Awards for Iran. From the well know filmmaker of that region whose film had already won the same award in the not so past. I'm not just addicted to Hollywood. I'm a film fanatic because I give equal preference to films of the whole world. So I have seen as many as this year's submission for the Oscars in the category of the Foreign Language Films. And there are lots better films than this, that even did not make into the final five. From my perspective, this is an okay film, even comparing with the rest of the fellow nominees, including that I thought that would win, 'Under Sandet'. The mess is all because of Trump effect, as same reason 'Moonlight' to win the main trophy.

At least it was not an average film like 'A Separation', though not a masterpiece like 'The Past' that did not even nominated for the Oscars. It stands between them. The title name is not exactly relevant to the story. But it helped to extend the plot for an extra 20-30 minutes. An unnecessary subplot, which really were the boring parts. Or you can say, just to attract the western audience with their ingredient and that worked out as planned for the filmmakers. Except those theatre portions, the rest of the film and its storyline looked like I was watching a French thriller.

It is about a young couple who are forced to relocate to another house after their apartment building was declared not safe anymore for some kind of construction taking place in the nieghbourhood which is affecting it. The man is managing his job at a school as a teacher and the remaining time as a theatre artist along with his wife. The life was as usual, till one day something bad happens to his wife at home in his absence. Now he's raged to find the culprit, but once if he did what happens and how the story ends was the another twist.

> ❝It's obvious you're not the one who found your wife the other day, otherwise you wouldn't say that.❞

It was a very slow start. I mean the opening scene was like racy. And then following, it slowed to build the momentum. That does not mean the characters were developed so well. It only moves forward with constructing what are all needed for later parts. Once it enters the third act, the scenario changes. It looked like another film, another genre. Too tense moment and tight plot for the grand finale. Yep, that is the part makes this film to forget everything you saw in the earlier.

Whatever happened in that part, I felt it was right, though I think culturally it differs the outcome. I mean, that's not philosophically the Iran we know or the religion they worship. You can say the western films badly portrayed them in their films, but if you look at their history, the film ending was shocking. So I thought, the end chaos was for among themselves. If the outsiders (westerners) were involved, it would have been a differently dealt.

Very good performances. But not perfectly written screenplay as I pointed out a few things in the earlier paragraphs. And another thing was, the character, particularly the mysterious one, I was not satisfied how it had been developed. He enters the frame only at the last moment. The narration was very suspense and a bit thriller, but then all the sudden everything comes crumbling down since the end was very near to cease the procession. My point is, how that X man was netted does not make sense in reality. Being a film, it has no problem at all.

So, it was a good film, but not as good as it was praised or won the Oscars. Yeah, definitely worth a watch. The setting was very good, except the ending, as the opinion differs from people to people and the amount of damage on how to deal with such situation. Overall, a little good message at the end, but not exactly a moral message as it brings more destruction towards the GOOD over the BAD which always win with a strong sentimental grip, no matter whoever involved in it.

_6.5/10_

By Richard von Busack February 2, 2017

In The Salesman, we have a look at how Iranian artists are standing on crumbling ground. It was a winner at Cannes, for best actor and script, and now it's national news because of the Trump administration's ban on Iranians entering our nation.

Academy Award winning director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) has said he's not attending the Oscars this year, even if the ban is lifted. On the bright side, there's no publicity man for your film like the president of the United States.

It's an indication of the way Iranian films are made—immersive, circumspect, slippery—that they start with circumstances so familiar to their core audience that they don't need much explanation. The Salesman begins with an apartment shaking itself to pieces. An earthquake? A man-made quake, caused by some careless bulldozer excavation next door, made worse by chronic jerry-building in the capital city.

The clumsy construction leaves the home of Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and his wife, Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), with cracked windows, gas leaks and crumbling plaster. An American film would begin with a search for financial restitution. In this part of Tehran, no one expects much justice. The couple transplants to a new, leaky apartment in a worse neighborhood, setting the stage for a more serious invasion of their home.

Emad is a film and drama teacher, starring in and staging a little-theater production of Death of a Salesman, with Rana in the role of Linda Loman. There are the usual difficulties—because of the censors, the actress playing the bad girl Miss Francis has lines about leaving a hotel room half-clad, while wearing a chador and a stout raincoat. Later, in a crowded classroom of unconvinced boys, Emad teaches the primordial film of the Iranian New Wave, 1969's The Cow. The story leaves the combative students baffled at the Kafka-like metamorphosis: "How does a man turn into a cow?" "Gradually,"

Emad replies.

When Rana is in her new home later, she's attacked and beaten in the shower by an intruder. The extent of the attack is up to us to gauge. Rana denies she was raped—the viewer suspects she is in denial. The couple don't call the police, because the cops are going to regard Rana as a loose woman who got what was coming to her. Moreover, the previous occupant of their new flat was a prostitute, kicked out by the landlord, leaving all her stuff behind. Pathetically, the crayon drawings her child scrawled are still on the walls. There is evidence, however. In his haste, the assailant left behind his truck, his keys, his cellphone and a wad of money to pay for what he did.

Farhadi's style is direct and unadorned, and wise about city life. (The Salesman proves the urban proverb that living next to prostitutes is fine—it's their clients you need to worry about.) It takes a lot of skill not to turn this into a rape-revenge movie. Farhadi almost approaches that abysmal genre. Instead this first-rate director fascinates us with the way a "cultural" couple—to use the flattering word their new neighbors use—handles a mysterious attack, in a land where the husband is traditionally supposed to be more shamed by such an attack than the wife.

Alidoosti brilliantly evokes the trauma she suffered, and she shows a moral backbone no one in the film can match. The reveal of a highly pathetic culprit makes this the smartest kind of movie on the subject, up with Polanski's Death and the Maiden. But the castingÉnot to spoil, but Farhadi went a little far in his presentation of the culprit as an all-too-vulnerable human. There are certain crimes it takes some muscle and good health to carry out. Let's put it like this: Sherlock Holmes wouldn't buy the explanation. Otherwise, Farhadi's melodrama-free drama impresses with the bewildering hunt for truth amid chronic falseness and religious hypocrisy.

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