Title – The Past aka Le Passe (2013)
Director – Asghar Farhadi (A Separation)
Cast – Berenice Bejo, Ali Mosaffa, Tahar Rahim, Pauline Burlet
Plot – Iranian Ahmad (Mosaffa) is called back to France to sign divorce papers with his ex-wife Marie (Bejo). Upon Ahmad’s return he discovers that Marie is planning to marry her new boyfriend Samir (Rahim) much to the dislike of Marie’s teenage daughter Lucie (Burlet). As Ahmad delves into Lucie’s dislike for this planned marriage revelations about the past of all participants are unearthed.
“In this situation, every certainty is a doubtful!”
Review by Eddie on 24/07/2014
Iranian born director Asghar Farhadi’s best Foreign Language Oscar winning feature length film from 2011, A Separation (at the time of writing ranked 102 on the IMDB Top 250) created quite the stir upon release, well and truly catapulting Farhadi into the western marketplace as a directing talent to watch. With Farhadi’s experience as a playwright, A Separation displayed a deft hand at emotionally resonate and hard hitting dialogue and while personally I felt A Separation was overrated there was no denying its power in many respects. With Farhadi’s latest Golden Globe nominated release The Past (or Le passé in its native tongue), this power is even more so present.
Once more as with A Separation, patience is required by the audience member to wade through what is a very long and at times unquestionably arduous 130 minute run time with a majority of proceedings taking place within the family home, the scope as a feature film is therefore very limited. While Farhadi’s feature is dented by its quite solitary locations (no doubt relating back to his work within the stage production world) there is no denying the large arena in which Farhadi’s script takes the participants of the film and us the audience to, in an often home hitting manner.
Farhadi’s script is in my books a large step up from A Separation and it’s fantastically played out by his hugely impressive cast, no more so than everyone’s favourite The Artist break out star Berenice Bejo as feisty and determined twice divorced mother figure Marie Brisson. Bejo shows a previously untapped skill in this picture and her performance showcases what could be a future Oscar winning leading lady mastering her craft. Marie is by no means an easy role, she is a hard person to warm to completely but there is enough within that makes her relatable and against all odds likeable. Farhadi also struck gold with his casting of the ever good Tahar Rahim (a favourite of mine after his stunning work in A Prophet) as Marie’s new squeeze Samir and there is a very impressive performance from teenage actress Pauline Burlet as Marie’s daughter Lucie that in a Hollywood picture would have brought her far more plaudits. All these elements combine to make The Past very much a movie deserving to be on your to watch list.
As previously mentioned The Past is by no means an easy watch, I would compare it to sitting through A Separation or even Amour in terms of tone and pacing, yet it all comes together to create one of the most simply beautiful film endings in recent memories and a story that will inspire debate amongst film lovers. Once Farhadi combines technical filmmaking to go along with his world class script work the results will be quite mind blowing, yet as it stands there’s still a whole lot to like about this talent who seems to have his finger on the pulse of the human condition as good as anyone else out there.
3 and a half bottles of perfume out of 5