When Iranian director Asghar Farhadi spoke of his culture’s tradition of peace when accepting the 2012 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, people may not have realized his picture, A Separation
, is actually quite critical of the society in which its set. The story of a middle-class couple in the process of divorcing, dealing with an elder suffering from Alzheimer’s and the accusations of a devout woman---a one-time care worker for the family---and her husband reveals much about the undercarriage of the Iranian legal system along with religious influence and gender inequality in the country. The film starts slowly, but the drab and claustrophobic domestic tale of the first act gives way to suspenseful courtroom drama and shifting allegiances of the second and third. Thoughtful and devastating, A Separation
is shockingly good, and a reminder how rare this kind of kitchen-sink naturalism is in English-language films.