About Elly (2015)
Critic Consensus: About Elly offers viewers performances as powerful as its thought-provoking ideas, and adds another strong entry to Asghar Farhadi's impressive filmography.
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Critic Reviews for About Elly
Farhadi has written a first-rate script, enabling intricate plotting to intertwine with well-defined characters, and "About Elly" shows him at ease with the wide variety of situations his writing explores.
"About Elly" is a stunning surprise package, profound in utterly unexpected ways.
By the time the mystery is solved, it hardly seems to matter. What matters is the casual lack of honesty that almost everyone seems to depend on.
It's an incisive portrait of a particular society, but it should resonate everywhere.
Audience Reviews for About Elly
This wonderful film begins as a simple drama that slowly introduces us to the characters and to the details of their vacation together until we are suddenly hit by a devastating tragedy that brings about the bitter consequences of many hidden truths and moral issues.
Sepideh: Now, what does he think about Elly?
It is interesting to go back in time with a director I have only recently found myself so intrigued by in recent years. Academy Award winner Asghar Farhadi had made four other films prior to A Separation and The Past. About Elly is one that somehow got lost in the shuffle as far as getting an American release. Regardless, the film has now arrived and continues to shed light on what a talent Farhadi is in capturing human drama.
The film is something of a mystery set among a group of old friends on a holiday retreat. With the return of a close friend, a group of former college pals decide to reunite for a weekend outing by the Caspian Sea. While things begin in good spirits, complete with an attempt to hook up two individuals, trivial lies start accumulating and things really escalate when a sudden disappearance occurs. This sets in motion a series of deceptions and revelations that threaten to shatter everything.
As I mentioned, this film really continues to prove how adept Farhadi is at developing human drama. That it is not quite as good as A Separation or The Past only suggests that Farhadi has improved only time as a filmmaker, given how good About Elly still is. This is a film that is stripped down of nearly everything, aside from some narrative ambition when it comes to utilizing the location for high tension. What is left are a collection of characters and a screenplay that allows for very natural conversations, arguments, and other relatable interactions.
With About Elly, the less you know the better, so I won't reveal specifics. I'll only say that the whereabouts of Elly becomes a problem. This introduces a series of conversations that slowly expose details that were heretofore unknown. The exchanges raise some unusual questions about moral principles and conduct. The toxicity of lies has been the subject of Farhadi's previous work, and this chronicle is no exception. What makes About Elly even more uncommon is the ethical concerns it raises that are unique to Iranian culture. One lie leads to another. Many arise out of cultural norms that would not be an issue in say the U.S. Farhadi's screenplay, based on a story created with Azad Jafarian, is brilliant and perfectly acted by an ensemble cast that is asd captivating as they are natural. Actress Golshifteh Farahani as Sepideh is particularly good. The narrative rests heavily on her shoulders. When she starts coughing out of worry, you can feel her stress. About Elly further cements Asghar Farhadi's reputation as one of our finest directors working today.
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