The famous acting coach Roy London, who is responsible for coaching many famous Hollywood stars, taught his students that there is ultimately one motivation to any dramatic scene: love. Each and every character in The Separation acts out in the exact same motivation: to protect their family. This simple motivation continues to spiral and spin out into an increasingly morally-ambiguous complex situation.The effect is that of a gripping thriller.
If there is ever a better example that filmmaking is a team effort, that there is no one star, that an entire cast can be praised together, this should definitely be it.
This is a story that’s not afraid to let its characters be unlikable. The film never presents anybody you should root for in the traditional sense. At times, you just want to go up and smack them. Personally I related to the father Nader (played by Peyman Moaadi). That can possibly be a screenplay issue because the mother Simin (played by Leila Hatami) is actually sidetracked in this film. The story between the daughter Termeh (played by Sarina Farhadi) and the father turns up being the heart of the story even thought it’s initially presented as the struggle between the husband and wife.
There is a little moment between Nader and Termeh in a gas station where he forces his daughter to retrieve some change that the gas station attendant took as an extra tip. He looks at her proudly in the mirror and smiles as she talks to the attendant. When Termeh returns, he gives her the cash as a reward. Personally, that was the most touching scene in the movie. There are no moments like this between the mom and the daughter. I would have voted to add one extra layer to the Simin character.
This was good handheld cinematography, which I theorize is just shaky enough just to remove the impression of pre-visualized choreography but never shaky enough or choppy enough to lose the center of focus within the frame.
I really enjoyed the ending to this film. As a writer, I battle with the idea of open endings but the ending achieved two things that makes it a legitimate artistic touch. 1) It is the most logical end point. I bet if you asked the director about what happened after the ending, he would tell you he truly doesn’t know. 2) We watch tragedies to see a protagonist essentially go through something horrible that we ultimately escape as an audience member. The film’s final act is something almost too hard to watch and aesthetically is probably better left to the audience’s imagination.
Also, the film shows that you should never underestimate an end credits sequence, as it is can be effective as the final aftertaste of a story’s conclusion.