Take a Drink: for every rumor or supposition about Elly
Take a Drink: for mentions of divorce
Take a Drink: whenever Sepideh coughs
Take a Drink: for assignments of blame
Take a Drink: every time a lie blows back on someone
Do a Shot: for impromptu dance parties
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
A Separation established Asghar Farhadi as one of the world’s foremost chroniclers of the complexity of human relationships , of the tangled web we weave, and The Past solidified it. Now we have About Elly releasing this year to continue that progression… except Farhadi actually made it before either of those films- in the halcyon year of 2009.
If you know who this is, you might be in 2009.
About Elly follows three vacationing Iranian couples plus an expat friend and one of their children’s teachers, Elly, who they’re trying to set him up with. When she disappears, lies, half-truths, and startling revelations make a muddled mess of their perception of their every interaction with her.
The genius of Asghar Farhadi is how simultaneously specific- documenting the life of the Iranian and Iranian expat middle classes in a fully rounded manner not seen from anyone else in the West, or perhaps even in Iran- and universal his films are. We all lie, and regardless of intention, we all know the usual fruit we reap from it.
Permanent Do Not Fly List for some of us.
Lies are what About Elly is, well, about. They’re not big salacious Scandal-sized ones, but rather the small white lies, omissions, and intimations that we’ve all convinced ourselves make life easier. Farhadi takes the possible fallout of these to an extreme but logical place, and watching these characters continually lie for short-term gain when you’re practically certain it means long-term consequences is as thrilling and nerve-wracking as any horror film.
Bitch, don’t go in that moral grey area!
The mystery of the disappearance starts to take precedence in the third act, leading up to an ending that is five kinds of heartbreaking. The acting, even from Bizarro Nick Kroll* and the relationships between the actors are uniformly realistic, and Farhadi’s unflashy but unblemished direction takes a backseat to, but is the essential support for the performances.
*Dead Center. No?
It’s strange to say, but a little more spoken exposition, considering such a large cast of primary characters who almost all know each other intimately, would’ve been nice. Expect to be lost for awhile.
How many more unreleased gems are left on Asghar Farhadi’s resume? Get on it, distributors- you’re sitting on one of the finest directors and storytellers in the world today.