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About Elly Reviews

Page 2 of 7
August 9, 2014
The Iranian cinema (that we get to see in the West) has been so astonishing for so long that it feels incredible to find a new Master in Asghar Farhadi (Oscar winner for A Separation). Kiarostami, Makhmalbaf, and Panahi (among others) have managed to incorporate another level to many of their films that asks the viewer to question what she or he is seeing (reality or artifice? truth or fiction?) and that same vein is mined to great effect in About Elly. Farhadi shows us a group of married friends (with children) from Tehran who decide to visit the Caspian seaside for the weekend. One of them, Sepideh (played warmly by Golshifteh Farahani), surprises them by bringing along her daughter's single teacher, Elly, to meet their recently divorced friend Ahmad visiting from Germany. The lies begin when the holiday villa they were supposed to have booked turns out to be unavailable - and they continue as members of the group routinely keep things from each other (a natural state of affairs) or join in the charade. A "L'Avventura" styled plot twist opens up even more questions and mysteries descend on the group. Farhadi does an excellent job of maintaining a high level of tension (almost too high!) and orchestrating a large number of actors, all in the dark, as the film tilts this way and that in search of a resolution.
August 5, 2014
Michael Bay should see this..
July 18, 2014
simple yet wonderfully woven storytelling.Makes the audience participate in filling the gaps at the level of decision making. Worth a watch.

Super Reviewer

June 26, 2014
Wow. This is a great film.

Farhadi kept evolving with every new film he made. He still uses a divorce in the film, but that divorce is transformed into a subtext this time in order to apply his own Antonioni-esque plot in a very similar physical setting: the sea, which vastness hides a bloodcurling amount of incomprehensible secrets.

And then again, if we compare both films, we'll realize we are with entirely different universes, and perhaps aren't comparable at all. Truth to be told however, Antonioni's film was a character study of alienation, the disappearance of the character creates a new unspoken attraction between two new leads and becomes a metaphor of the disappearance of the life priorities of oneself's existence, and the affair happens after the disappearance.

About Elly is both thematically and psychologically backwards. That is, the "love" affair was planned to happen before the disappearance, and was orchestrated by a group of friends, mainly by a female third party. Moreover, the disappearance turns the lives of everybody upside down, and this psychological analysis fleshes out the characters. Finally, the intention is not to alienate, but to make the tension as realistic as possible.

"Tension" is a word I use a lot while writing about Farhadi, because the art of his moviemaking consists exactly in the slow escalation of tension. Whereas he will do this two years later in a way few times attempted before by any moviemaker in A Separation with one of the best opening sequences of the decade, here he achieves this by introducing the whole cast in such a natural way that you feel as a part of the group. You literally play, joke, drink and chat with them. Enough time is spent to set a mood and then drastically change it in the second act.

What is very interesting about this mood evolvement is that the plot description already sells the main event: Elly will evaporate from the earth's surface. So the more you get along with the characters' anecdotes, the scarier the idea of somebody disappearing or having an accident becomes. This is proved by the first incident portrayed in the film, which just happens to be unrelated with Elly, but with Arash. The whole situation is so tense, that you start to wonder whether if you'll be able to handle, yes, the tension of the next incident.

Farhadi's most important thematic trademarks are present here as well: the power of a lie or lack of communication can bring destruction to everybody involved, little children have to cope with adult problems that they do not understand (suffering in the process), and one single event, suspicion or differing perspectives towards a single problem are the elements used to create verbal, physical and emotional confrontations between the characters that peel their intentions, personalities, fears and impulses as easily as you peel an onion.

Bravo to that.

May 24, 2014
Iranian cinema always fascinates me, generally story-oriented, psychologically heavy, full of deep meaning if you want to dig deeper and could be considered parable. About Elly is no different, the act is superb, the spike of energy during the main plot, moral debates; this movie reminds me of 'The Separation' which is as psychologically exhausting as this.
September 2, 2009
Engaging and thought-provoking
April 24, 2014
About Elly follows a group of friends to a idyllic weekend getaway and the events that unfold thereafter. Beneath the entire dilemma about Elly's honour, her fiancÚ's rage and heartbreak, the group's sense of morality lies the unasked question that involves Elly's individuality which she will never be able to ask, "What does Elly want for herself?" About Elly is a thorough observation of human behaviour in times of personal crisis.
April 11, 2014
My first foray into Farhadi territory, and I am mightily impressed by this masterful examination of group dynamics under pressure and the moral debates and spiraling deceptions springing from it. Film making of highest order.
March 4, 2014
A group of friends go to spend a few days in the seaside and they take along Elly, the teacher of one of their children. Things ran smoothly until Elly expresses her wish to leave, Sepideh, the woman that invited her firmly opposes, shortly afterwards one of the children is found floating almost dead in the sea and Elly is missing. Uncertain of what has happened to her- drawn trying to save the child or walked to the bus stop- the group debates what they should do next. Their fears and their little secrets come out and fuels confrontation and meanness amongst them.
Half way between a crime movie and a drama this Iranian production is a sharp portrayal of characters forced to face a possible tragedy and finding very difficult to take the steps in the right direction, rather than working as a team they accuse each other of bringing Elly along first and then losing track of her. Torn by guilt the group has no choice but to contact the young woman's relatives.
The movie is very good at displaying a dramatic event in a very believable light. The characters are real and likely, the situations and reactions are not forced and it just shows us how close we all can be to such traumatic circumstances.
The script and direction are very neat and the actors are so natural that you might forget that you are actually watching a movie. Instead it feels like you just walked inside the neighbour's house and you are witnessing this drama unfold.
A remarkable piece of Iranian cinema, it won several accolades including the Silver Bear in the Berlin Film Festival of 2009.
December 15, 2013
Relationships forged with so much care,come undone in the face of uncertainty and peril.
November 16, 2013
Masterpiece, wonderful screenplay, great acting and a masterful director , Farhadi is everything ?????
November 13, 2013
This is a story manufactured out of very little but nevertheless it is a fraught situation and almost as fraught a watch. The collection of holidaying characters are just about interesting enough.
November 5, 2013
Masterpiece! Asghar Farhadi can tell ordinary stories in extraordinary ways! This is film making of a higher order. Period
phil b.
March 10, 2013
Where is the 'Write a Review' button? I cannot post any reviews without it. Phil.
August 11, 2013
Farhadi plays a lot with that who said what, luxury only a director as fine as him can afford to. He is a top class director and this is a top class movie.
June 23, 2013
It's not the cinematography, it's not the performances, it's how Assghar Farhadi made me feel for every single one of them, even Ali Asghar.
May 29, 2013
miserable dramatic story !
May 26, 2013
Really mr Farhadi can't be more great, i bow to him
May 16, 2013
An extraordinary treat, a must see!
May 10, 2013
A film made by Farhadi who was awarded an Oscar for best foreign film "A Separation" 2011.

Farhadi proves adept at controlling the tone of his film. By slowly setting up the situation and the complex nexus of relationships between the characters, he lulls the audience into thinking the film will continue in a comic mode until Elly's disappearance. From then on, the film takes a serious tone. Lies come back to haunt the characters, and the consequences of these are unforgiving. Some of these lies were told due to particular proprieties necessary within Iranian society. The brilliance of Farhadi's script and direction becomes most apparent in the latter stages of the film. As one secret after another is revealed, Farhadi deftly maps out the shifts in the perceptions and behaviour of the characters toward each other as well as the viewer's perception of the characters. Farhadi's cast is uniformly excellent, especially Farahani, who compellingly registers Sepideh's shock at how her seemingly innocent matchmaking has taken such a tragic turn, as well as the way her character, like others in the film, is revealed to not be what it initially appears.
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