About Elly Reviews
The film opens on a light note, with a group of old friends, made up of three couples and their children, traveling from Tehran to the Caspian Sea for a beach getaway. Joining them are Ahmad (Shahab Hosseini) and Elly (Taraneh Alidoosti). Ahmad, an affable Iranian who returns from Germany after a recent split with his wife, is open to the idea of being matchmade with Elly, an elusive but obliging kindergarten teacher of the daughter of Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani), who organized the getaway. Sepideh's secret plan to introduce both of them is welcomed by the rest of the group, but we'll soon find out that it's the least of her string of little white lies which will play a part in the twist of events coming. As Elly fits into the group of friends since their university days, act 1 is a clever intention for us to observe and get to know more about each character as they joke, laugh, break bread and end the day with a game of charades.
About Elly quickly ratchets up suspense in act 2 the next day, as the upbeat mood of their weekend takes a dark turn when Elly suddenly goes missing. Leaving the group helplessly clueless, has she drowned in the angry sea attempting to save a child, or has she abruptly left the place unannounced despite Sepideh's pestering to stay. What appears to be another kitchen sink drama suddenly erupts into panic mode, trampled by series of revelations that challenge the moral core of these characters. These developments ooze varying degrees of mistrust and hostility among the friends, whilst audience is kept anxious coupled with the soundtrack of endless crashing waves so cleverly added to further bring us into the scene.
What's so brilliant about this film is the revelation that the actual whereabouts of the titular character no longer seems important at the end, as we witness how each small lie repeatedly breeds damaging consequences. Whilst a woman's disappearance is on the line, what eventually matters is how each of the character deals with the crisis, broods over each other's surfacing dishonesty and unconsciously depend on them to salvage their own dignity. Farhadi builds an elaborate psychodrama depicting how harmless intentions can culminate into most scourging and life-changing events. Using everyday lives and conversations, his film has an uncomfortable but important message to tell. And along with some of the other films which are in my top list, what I really love is how the film lets audience decipher the clues and make our own conclusions. All the characters' performances are on point, especially Golshifteh Farahani. Even the children are invested in the emotional roller-coaster, making this film another testament of Farhadi's excellent filmmaking.
Down-to-earth and depicting the normal life of Iranian people, this a drama and a mystery based on believes, traditions, social prejudices and human relationships. Even though it is not as captivating as A Separation, About Elly has a certain level of emotional load that differentiates from the previous Farhadi deliveries. Issues of gender politics and moral traditions mixed with attempts for post-modern thinking, sadness and realistic moments of shock which all combined in one story result in a stunningly realistic and touching movie.
It is certainly not a movie to be enjoyed by mainstream audiences, but if you are looking for a quality examples of art-house classics. About Elly is a must see!