The Past [2013] ★★★½

the-past-posterWriter/Director Asghar Farhadi made a strong impression with his Oscar winning feature “A Separation” a couple of years ago.  His latest movie, “The Past”, isn’t an Oscar contender this year but that’s no reason for you to skip it. Much like his previous film, “The Past” dramatizes a credible situation and holds you in its grip for two hours, without letup. There are no heroes or villains in his story: just real people with real problems. The story begins when an Iranian man (Ali Mosaffa) comes to Paris at the request of his ex-wife (Bérénice Bejo) to complete their divorce settlement. Once there, he finds himself in the midst of an emotional crisis, mostly having to do with his ex’s new boyfriend (Tahar Rahim, from the brilliant “A Prophet”) and her teenage daughter. I won’t reveal more. Suffices to say that this is the first chapter of an unfolding story that left me speechless by the time it was over. Farhadi, a superior filmmaker, sets up his story and peels away its many mysteries, one layer at a time. The characters in his screenplay are real people, leading imperfect lives; they don’t always make good choices. But we can relate to their feelings, and their actions, at every turn of this devastating drama. And we come to understand that there are no easy solutions once the story reaches its conclusion. If thought provoking filmmaking is what you’re looking for, “The Past” is definitely the movie for you. It’s as powerful as a punch in the gut.

Rating: 3.5/4

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