As daytime caregiver for the old man, Nader hires the traditionally clad Razieh. A weary mule of endurance (Sareh Bayat is outstanding), she is not only pregnant but pressured by her unemployed husband, who is prone to macho violence and verbal pieties. Razieh’s darling girl tags along, and her consuming eyes are the innocent mirror — along with those of the grandfather and endearingly worried Termeh — of mounting desperation. This involves threats from the hothead husband (Shehab Hosseini, frightening but human).
A Separation is in the Jean Renoir tradition of “everyone has their reasons.” Director-writer Asghar Farhad never sits in judgment. We absorb the truths intimately from actors so transparently truthful and free of mannerisms that we could almost think this is a documentary. There is a visible subtext: the misogyny of the Islamic Republic, which has embedded in its pious laws and politics a civil war between men and women.
Oscar buzz: I am not dazed by the Oscar nominations announced Tuesday. What did daze me was the Los Angeles Times’ full-page ad (January 15) for its glam-crazed awards section, The Envelope, blithely equating George Clooney and Cary Grant. That night, gilding the comparison, Clooney did a swinging-penis joke at the Golden Globes. Grant, by the way, was not a Globes guy. He lost five times and was never nominated for his best work.
Newsreel: Great boxer Joe Frazier died at 67 on November 7, 2011, and the San Diego Black Film Festival opens its tenth run on Thursday (January 26) with Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears, a documentary by Mike Todd (no, not Liz Taylor’s Mike Todd). Over 100 movies, mostly shorts, are in the downtown event for four days, plus panels, mixers, parties. Check it out at sdbff.com.
Reviewed in the movie capsules: Addiction Incorporated, The Dead, Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, Haywire, Man on a Ledge, Red Tails, Underworld: Awakening.