AFF review: La Passé (The Past)

Satisfyingly uncomfortable

There are several scenes in Asghar Farhadi’s spectacular La Passé (The Past) framed with characters talking behind glass. Though their body language is visible, the words can’t be heard. It’s a delicate symbol for how we view past events. We can see the details, the lips moving, but what’s actually said is left impenetrable. Farhadi follows up his phenomenal A Separation with this vexing look at relationships. The story follows Ahmad, who returns to France from Iran to finalize his divorce from Marie. While staying in his old house, with his kids and her new fiancé Samir, Ahmad’s presence begins to unclog the debilitating truths everyone’s unwilling to face. After an uncomfortable first hour of feigned politeness, the film spins around a series of harrowing arguments born out of an enigmatic trauma. A final, purposefully vague shot underscores the ambiguity lingering on everyone's mind while giving audiences something to argue about. Everyone always says they want to move on, but what came before will just sort of sit there, comatose—unresolvable and refusing to die.

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