- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: Persian/Farsi DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0 Stereo (48kHz/24-bit), French DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0 Stereo (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English, French
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: PG-13
- Run Time: 123 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Classics
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 21, 2012
- List Price: $35.99
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Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning (Best Foreign Language Film of the Year/2012) film A Separation is a riveting and poignant look into the real, everyday life of Iranian problems, the kind of peek that, for Westerners such as myself, is highly unusual and far removed from the menacing propaganda that tends to accompany all talk of Iran on the nightly news. What could very well be one of the last such films to come out of Iran given, from what I hear, the much stricter regulations that have gone into effect since the film was in production, A Separation follows the problems of a married couple, Nader (Peyman Moadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami), who are arguing over whether or not to leave Iran and go abroad after receiving a permit from the government to do so. Simin wants to take the couple’s 11-year-old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) out of the country so she can have a better life, but Nader feels obligated to stay in Iran and take care of his elderly father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Having reached an impasse, the couple go to a judge and decide to divorce, formally separating, but Termeh refuses to go with her mother, which forces Simin to stay behind in Iran anyway, living with her own mother.
This is when the film begins to spiral more slowly out of control as Nader must find someone to take care of his father during the day when he is out to work. Simin finds a deeply devout, married woman, Razieh (Sareh Bayat) who comes by with her young 4-year-old daughter. Staying in a house alone with a single man is already morally and culturally wrong, so she must hide this from her husband, even as she takes the work to help him avoid arrest by his creditors. But a pressing matter that sends her out of the house in the middle of the day, having to lock the elderly man in and tie him to the bed lest he should wander off, leads to a major altercation between her and Nader. He throws her out of the house, physically pushing her through the door and she slips down the stairs. This leads to a medical emergency and criminal charges against Nader who is facing possibly 3-years in prison. As the enmity increases between Nader and Razieh’s husband who demands justice, Nader refuses to back down and admit any guilt in what occurs, drawing his family, particularly his daughter, into the middle of an ever-growing tangle of complications.
A Separation is handled with the ultimate immediacy, like the best of cinema verite, with every actor involved giving 110%. The view into the Iranian court system, which is more like a mediation, is intriguing from an outsider’s point of view, but mainly the film on the whole is a really touching drama that both highlights all of the cultural issues of Iran and weightily portrays the universal human truth of a family torn in two and the chaos that can ultimately bring about.
Filmed on Fuji Eterna 500T 8573 and Eterna 400T 8583 35mm film, A Separation comes to Blu-ray in a solid AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement framed at 1.85:1. It’s not the sort of film that is going to awe you with lots of different colors, nuanced lighting, or special effects and I did seem to notice a bit more speckles and scratches than usual for films of such recent vintage, but it looks film-like and natural with a relatively thin layer of grain and strong detail.
A Separation is granted a rarely seen but just fine 3.0 stereo mix in Persian/Farsi DTS-HD Master Audio (48kHz/24-bit). It provides clear dialogue in the center channel and a clearly defined amount of atmospheric sounds panned to the left and right speakers.
The disc is bolstered with only the requisite extras, nothing too much, but the commentary and Q&A with the director are at least informative.
- Commentary with Writer/Director Asghar Farhadi
- An Evening with Asghar Farhadi (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:30:42) – Q&A with the director.
- Birth of a Director (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:07:53) – This is a French interview with the director, but for some reason I couldn’t get the English subtitles to work on my Oppo BDP-93.
- Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)
The Definitive Word
A magnificent film worthy of the Oscar it garnered, A Separation is truly one of the best family dramas I have seen all year. It is a harrowing look at a family torn apart and a real glimpse into a culture we don’t often get a window into. Highly recommended.
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