We’ve reached an interesting time in the world where populations who lack understanding of each other attribute certain characteristics to those seemingly different from them. Luckily, through art we are often reminded that being human, we have much more in common than we may initially realize. Culture and experience may shape a lot of our world views and perspectives, but when it comes to what’s important, those we love and the feelings we have, we can all relate. Writer and director Asghar Farhadi’s latest expression through film, The Salesman, presents a potent drama about an Iranian couple in the aftermath of a particularly impactful event one night.
The married couple, Emad and Rana, played by Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti respectively, both share time together as amateur actors rehearsing for a local performance of Death of a Salesman. From early on, the film sets up certain expectations, but leads us into a completely different direction, forcing me to face my own stereotypes of a country I’ve never visited. The event that impacts both characters in such different ways is better left unsaid (because you know I hate spoilers), but suffice it to say that Emad and Rana’s relationship becomes more complicated, more strained, as each try to cope with it in their own ways.
Farhadi’s voice is one that I hope to hear in cinema for decades as his portrayal of human emotion tied into a culture different from ours presents a truly unique exploration into both that culture and into our own emotional landscapes. Often times throughout the film, I find myself contemplating how I would react in a particular situation, and The Salesman provided me plenty of opportunities to ponder that notion. Feeling connected to both Rana and Emad in different ways, I was challenged to pick a character to whom I felt more closely related, one who maybe seemed to be more correct than the other. However, is there really a right and wrong when it comes to feelings? There are only right and wrong responses to those feelings, and I think as events unfold, the actions of the characters begin to impact my viewpoints of them.
Farhadi’s film carries a certain level of mystery and intrigue while also sorting through the internal, emotional struggles of both characters as tensions build. As the drama intensifies, The Salesman flows easily from one focus to the next. Garnering a Best Foreign Film nomination in this year’s Academy Awards, The Saleman certainly achieves so much in its slightly more than two hours of running time.
The Salesman is currently playing in select cities. Please check your local listings for showtimes. It’s definitely worth checking out.