A Separation – 9

There are no bad people in this story, but (almost) all the people do bad things – the chief among them not telling the truth. There is always a good reason, one that seems, at the moment, more important than the truth. Seeing how each of the characters handles this personal dilemma is only one of many strengths of this marvelous movie, which deserves its Oscar win and was, in my view, the best film in any category at that event. The performances are so real as not to seem like acting, from the winsome 4-year-old to the grandfather with Alzheimer’s. Given chance after chance to explode in rage, whether at the person around them or their own fate, the main characters remain remarkably equable, which invites us into their minds: what are they thinking? what would I be thinking in that situation.  Although the judicial process on view may be uniquely Iranian, and the role of the specific religion is foreign, there is nothing uniquely Iranian about any of the behavior on display. Just yesterday, the Times reported that William Rehnquist had undoubtedly lied about a memo he wrote in order to get confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. And the New Orleans Saints coach, when confronted by NFL investigators, was no more honest than the father who said he didn’t know that the woman he pushed was pregnant. But what would happen to his daughter and his father if he was sent to jail? Isn’t that reason enough to shade the truth, a little bit?

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