Ashamed to say I still haven't seen this.
David Thomson has:
In a complete world of film-going, we should no longer tolerate the label “foreign film,” especially since it seems likely that a film from France in which the French language remains tactfully silent is going to stroll away with Best Picture. The Artist is a pleasant soufflé, over which older Academy voters can wax nostalgic. But A Separation is what the cinema was invented for.
EDIT: More from Thomson's review:
With the best will in the world, George Clooney cannot discard his aura of stardom, yet the actors in the Iranian film seem caught in their characters’ traps. That point about affluence is worth dwelling on. In 2011, not many American films dealt with money and its shortage in lifelike ways. It hurts The Descendants, I think, that its people are so well-heeled. Yet the common experience of the nation is the desperate effort to stretch money. A Separation is full of that and it works on the assumption that the means of life are vital to the way it is lived. It is a great film, the best from last year, and a model of how films can be made.
As an aside, "The common experience of the nation is the desperate effort to stretch money" is why I loved, rather than merely liked, Win Win, whose main character "stretches" money by basically stealing it, then is forced to come clean. It's probably "small ball" morally alongside what happens in A Separation, but the "desperate effort" part of it really spoke to me.
Sorry for the digression.
Christian, for what it's worth, Farhadi, told the audience I was in at Toronto
that the film was "as much about class warfare" as it was about familial conflicts or religious differences.
I had asked him to convert the settlement amount to Euros or Dollars and/or discuss how much it was in comparison to gross family income and he (and the Iranians in the audience) just kind of laughed--like the Western/literal nature of the question didn't quite capture the essence of the gulf between the have lesses and and the have nothings. I haven't rechecked my notes but I thought he said like ten thousand euros but the more important point was that it was more money than they would have any reasonable hope of making over their entire lives.
Actually I think the comparison to Win-Win
is apt in that what is significant is not the exact dollar amount but what it signifies to either party (survival/necessity vs. higher standard of life) and how necessity (or the belief that it is necessity) can be used to justify (to yourself) doing something you know is wrong.
Edited by kenmorefield, 17 February 2012 - 02:16 PM.