A Separation

A Separation (in Persian: جدایی نادر از سیمین‎ Jodái-e Náder az Simin, “The separation of Nader from Simin”) is a critically acclaimed 2011 Iranian drama film written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, starring Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat and Sarina Farhadi. It focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, and the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower-class caretaker for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

A Separation won the 84th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, becoming the first Iranian movie to win the award. It received the Golden Bear for Best Film and the Silver Bears for Best Actress and Best Actor at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, becoming the first Iranian film to win the Golden Bear. It also won the 69th Golden Globe Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film. The film was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award, a rare occurrence for a foreign language film.

Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) have been married for fourteen years and live with their eleven-year-old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) in Tehran. The family belongs to the urban upper middle-class and the couple is on the verge of separation. Simin wants to leave the country with her husband and daughter, as she does not want Termeh to grow up under the prevailing conditions. This desire is not shared by Nader. He is concerned for his elderly father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi), who lives with the family and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. When Nader decides to stay in Iran, Simin files for divorce.

The family court judges the couple’s problems insufficient to warrant divorce and rejects Simin’s application. Simin leaves her husband and daughter and moves back in with her parents. On the recommendation of his wife, Nader hires Razieh (Sareh Bayat), a young, deeply religious woman from a poor suburb, to take care of his father while he works at a bank. Razieh has applied for the job without consulting her hot-tempered husband Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), whose approval, according to tradition, would have been required. Her family is financially dependent on the work, and she takes her daughter to the house with her.

Razieh soon becomes overwhelmed by taking care of Nader’s father, which is physically and emotionally demanding. On the first day of work, when she finds that the old man is incontinent, she phones a religious hotline to ask if it would be a sin for her to clean him. Assured that it would be acceptable, she continues in the job, but later hopes to get her husband into the position, without revealing that she had first worked there. She finds the work very heavy, especially as she is pregnant. Nader interviews Hodjat and hires him, but Hodjat, who is heavily in debt, is jailed by his creditors on the day he is due to start, and so Razieh returns to work for Nader.

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