The Salesman (Forushande) (2017)
Critic Consensus: The Salesman takes an ambitiously complex look at thought-provoking themes, and the well-acted results prove another consistently absorbing entry in writer-director Asghar Farhadi's distinguished filmography.
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Critic Reviews for The Salesman (Forushande)
One of the reasons The Salesman crackles is because Hosseini gives such a remarkable performance.
The film is beautifully acted by Shahab Hosseini, who makes Emad a knight with a control freak inside, and Taraneh Alidootsi, who suggests a woeful Iranian version of Marion Cotillard. But the great performance here is that of Babak Karimi.
The gears in The Salesman are not so hidden and a sense of contrived drama leads to some tedious sections. But all is forgiven when the final punches are delivered in a knock-out finale that leaves the viewer tense and breathless.
For two-thirds of its running time, attention must be paid to an exquisitely realized suspense-thriller. It isn't until Farhadi borrows a calculable cup of revenge from the Death Wish cookbook that his soufflé begins to flatten.
Audience Reviews for The Salesman (Forushande)
Superbly acted. I can see why this got an Oscar. That is backed up by an interesting story too, which is powerful, and focuses on the effects of post trauma and getting revenge for those you love.
IT'S MILLER TIME - My Review of THE SALESMAN (3 1/2 Stars) Iranian filmmakers have long disguised their political dissent by way of children's parables in order to skirt their nation's stringent censorship board. THE WHITE BALLOON and BASHU THE LITTLE STRANGER come to mind, but such is not the case with writer/director Asghar Farhadi, whose films about adults play out like silent screams in the face of the patriarchy and governmental bureaucracy. The former playwright won an Oscar for A SEPARATION and followed it up with THE PAST, starring Berenice Bejo of THE ARTIST. His latest won the Best Actor and Screenplay awards at the Cannes Film Festival and today scored a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nod. With each successive film, Farhadi's work has felt less stage bound, more cinematic, which is ironic considering the new film uses a production of Arthur Miller's DEATH OF A SALESMAN as its backdrop. When the film opens, a married couple, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) must evacuate their apartment as the walls crumble due to nearby construction gone awry. It's an apt analogy of the cracks soon to come in their marriage. Both have taken on the lead roles in the Miller play, with Emad doing double duty as beloved school teacher. Once safely out of the apartment, the couple move into the temporary digs of a woman who has yet to clear out one room, leaving behind personal belongings and a reputation as a prostitute. Although the prior tenant never appears in the film, her existence and perceived morality linger over everything that transpires. One evening, Rana prepares to take a shower and buzzes her intercom to presumably let her husband into the building. She leaves the front door open as she heads to the bathroom, the camera lingering on that door for too many beats for anything good to come of it. It's a masterful moment and one in which I felt Farhadi took a giant leap forward in visual, suspenseful storytelling. Rana suffers from a traumatic event, the details of which seem murky at best, and Emad makes it his cause to find the perpetrator to exact some type of revenge against him. Rana's emotional collapse and Emad's obsessions have an impact on the play, which is itself an examination of the last gasps of male power. It's here where the film's true subversiveness slyly makes itself known. Despite being the victim of a bloody assault, Rana's concerns have little weight next to Emad's quietly seething rage. While assault goes unreported in most of the world, the decision to go to the authorities have much wider ranging implications in more stringent patriarchal societies such as Iran, where the shame brought on the families can outweigh the needs of the victims. Farhadi excels in these moments where glances replace reams of dialogue to convey the couples' stifled feelings. He's helped immeasurably by two actors at the top of their games. Hosseini justifiably received recognition for perfectly capturing the unraveling of a seemingly gentle man, but it's Alidoosti who astonishes as a woman dying inside not so much from what happened in that bathroom but for being shut out of her own life by the person who loves her the most. The way she looks at her husband throughout the story feels like a one woman March On Tehran. With her gloriously open expressiveness, she slowly but surely exerts her power as best she can. She has a similar gift to that of Amy Adams, the ability to be on the verge of tears while exuding commanding strength. Rather than tend to his wife's needs, Emad plays amateur detective to track down the assailant. The last third of the film, while still well within the realm of neorealism, carries elements of Hitchcockian suspense such as the way Emad chases after a suspect, or in the quietly shocking way the "bad guy" gets revealed. From there, we're left with the unbearable tension of a revenge fantasy come to awkward, real life. We feel the messiness of it in the way health issues play into the proceedings, in the way a distraught wife painfully navigates a set of stairs, or in the raw brutality of a slap across a face. While growing as a visual storyteller, Farhadi gets a little tripped up with his depiction of the play within the movie. Maybe he resisted the thudding obviousness of using excerpts from the play that has a direct correlation to the main story, but as it stands, the connections seem oblique at best. I'd suggest brushing up on your SALESMAN knowledge before seeing this film. It may provide more resonance. Farhadi, perhaps in his attempts to get his films made, seems to play both sides by clearly giving voice to women, who get blamed for being temptresses for men, and to men who seemingly have no choice but to exert their power. The inciting incident in this film affects everyone and everything around them, and yet the person it affects the most matters the least. The fact that this got past the censors and has become the highest grossing film in Iran tells me even they recognize a problem that can no longer be ignored. Oh, who am I kidding? Things may never change. It's possible for men to stay in power and allow for dissenting voices, right? It still happens here too. Farhadi, with his prior films, knew how to engage his audience. With THE SALESMAN, as imperfect as it is and perhaps a tad too dry at times, he has discovered how to haunt us.
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