The Past hits Berlin cinemas on January 30.
After About Elly (2009) and Golden Bear winner The Separation (2011), Farhadi continues to amaze with his piercing portrayal of middle-class relationships, set this time against the backdrop of multicultural Paris. Ahmad (Mosaffa) returns from Iran to Paris to sign divorce papers with Marie (Bejo), but the attempt to move forward turns into an unexpected journey: more past is dug up than future built as burdens and expectations become involuntarily mingled in a series of intertwined family dramas which gradually spin out of control.
Carefully scripted, the film is an intriguing labyrinth constructed around secrets hidden deep within everyday household trivia. Fragments of phrases and subtle gestures work as essential clues leading to revelations or half-revelations. Their workings are fully enhanced by all-round impeccable performances from the cast, including those of its younger members. And as the complicated matter unfolds, the boundaries between innocence and guilt, as well as those between true and false, become increasingly blurred.
This is the beauty of it: the film questions without judging and leaves ample space for reflection. In this emotional roller coaster, you can’t count on the evidence of eyes and ears, and the past never stops haunting.
The Past | Directed by Asghar Farhadi (France, Italy 2013) with Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet. Starts Jan 30
Originally published in issue #124, February 2014.