Travelling to Paris from Tehran to finalize his divorce, an Iranian man (Ali Mosaffa) finds himself suddenly and tragically drawn back into the lives of his ex (Bérénice Bejo, The Artist) and her daughter, in the exquisitely written and magnificently acted new film from Academy Award-winning director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation).
The winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film with 2011's A Separation, Asghar Farhadi returns with a film that's recognizable but also quite different. The similarities are many: a couple in conflict, the role of children in this conflict, an interest in class, and a reliance on conversations to examine ethical dilemmas arising from the situation. The setting has been moved from Tehran to Paris, although, under Farhadi's gaze, France has never looked so much like Iran. And the interchanges that defined his earlier film have become even more intricate and maze-like in Le Passé.
The story circles around Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa), who travels to Paris from Tehran to finalize his divorce from his French wife, Marie (Bérénice Bejo), after a period of separation. Their beautifully depicted greeting at the airport soon gives way, however, to constant bickering and disagreements, as Ahmad finds that life can never be entirely compartmentalized. No matter how much he tries to remain apart from it all, events conspire to drag him into a series of new emotional involvements. As he discovers that his ex is about to remarry, and that her daughter vehemently objects to this new liaison, Ahmad is gradually drawn into their lives anew. Farhadi places this tale of emotional failures and marital collapse against a very specific socio-economic background: the immigrant community struggling to survive in a foreign country. As he peels the various layers away from his story, we are astonished at the strong interconnections he makes between his characters. Life runs deep.
Exquisitely written, the film is also acted
by a note-perfect cast. (Bejo's performance
won her the Best Actress award this year at
Cannes.) With Le Passé, Farhadi has proven
once again that he is a master at exploring
the rich nuances of feelings and words that
pass between couples and their children.