Director: Asghar Farhadi
Stars: Shahab Hossein, Taraneh Alidoosti
If you’re in the mood for a high quality drama film, no matter how deeply it comments on some of the more worrying aspects of humanity, then The Salesman is a must-watch for anyone looking out for (one of) the best film 2016 had to offer, a masterwork crafted by writer-director Asghar Farhadi, who is becoming an increasingly prominent name in the film world (as perhaps evidenced by his two Oscar statuettes).
Farhadi regulars Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti (who appeared together in his films About Elly and A Separation) star as Emad and Rana Etesami respectively, a couple who are both actors and are rehearsing for a live production of Death of a Salesman. One night after a rehearsal, Rana is attacked in their new apartment and Emad makes it his duty to find who’s responsible, though as he puts his detective skills into action, he gradually reveals an unfortunate set of circumstances that had lead to this assault. But more importantly, he also begins to reveal a lot about himself, his wife, and the difference between their reactions to this crime.
The Salesman is a slow-burn, and the parallel stories of the couple responding to the attack and continuing on with their lives and their stage-play initially seems a little disconnected. However, the film never feels unsure as each scene is so strongly put together, from the powerful performances (from all involved, but namely Hosseini and Alidoosti) that unravel in more complex ways as the film progresses, and assisted with some fine, yet restrained directing, masterful writing, and lean editing. This all leads to a note-perfect and enormously intense final act that not only manages to tie up everything that preceded it, but do so in a way that achieves such a high sense of drama. This is not a tidy film, it’s one that presents two viewpoints on the notion of revenge and, as it doesn’t pick sides, is sure to be a hell of a conversation starter.
The Salesman managed to beat out the comedy-drama Toni Erdmann (another PIAF film of this year) for this year’s Best Foreign Film Oscar, but Farhadi and Alidoosti refused to travel to the US to accept the award due to the recent immigration ban. It’s unlikely they would’ve attended the ceremony even if it had been nominated for Best Picture, which it should have as it blows all the nominees out of the water and makes them look like box-ticking melodramas. The Salesman is a deeply stirring film that builds to an intense and lengthy finale that will have you reeling, arguing over, and thinking about for probably a lifetime. A serious and artful craft, The Salesman is drama and storytelling of nearly the highest order and is unmissable on the big screen at PIAF this year.
The Salesman plays at UWA Somerville from Mon 3-Sun 9 Apr, 7:30pm, and at ECU Joondalup Pines from Tues 11-Thur 13 Apr & Sat 15-Sun 16 Apr, 7:30pm. For more info head to perthfestival.com.au.