This week BUFS is pleased to present Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, The Salesman by Asghar Farhadi
The Salesman delves into the dark side of the soul after a traumatic assault triggers a young husband’s uncontrollable need for revenge. The film opens with what seems like an earthquake in Tehran, Iran. It forces happily married couple Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) to flee from their home into the streets. Knowing it was construction rather than an earthquake, the couple is forced to temporarily move to another, less extravagant apartment filled with the past tenant’s possessions.
Simultaneously, the couple are starring in a local production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and as the film progresses, Farhadi explores the horrifying speed in which conflict can disrupt our mundane lives. The film contorts itself from a quiet family drama to a tale of revenge and the shift between the two is thrilling.
Farhadi is known as one of the best political filmmakers, his work focuses on stories of everyday family matters and relatable domestic dramas that slowly convert into catastrophes due to upsets in the smallest societal norms. The Salesman relies on one incident that devastates the couple beyond repair to create the film’s tension.
Burdened with the repercussions of an incident out of Emad’s control, he finds himself crippled with rage and feelings of emasculation that leaves his marriage deeply troubled. In these moments, the viewer sees how similar he is to Willy Loman, the character he plays in Death of a Salesman. The film is a tale of crime and punishment entranced by the spirit of Willy Loman. Seeking trust and honour in combination with justice for violence against women in a patriarchal society encapsulate the majority of the film. These themes are met with underlying discussions about class that demand the viewers’ attention. This is a film of elusive motivations and the mysteries of our personalities that Farhadi transforms into a gripping drama set in contemporary Iran.
Tightly focused, The Salesman is arguably one of Oscar winning Asghar Farhadi’s best pieces of work. With impeccable performances from both Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti, it is no surprise that The Salesman is currently up for an Oscar. The film reminds us that no one is who we initially might think they are and in due time everyone reveals their true selves, similarly to Death of a Salesman. Much of the pain surrounding The Salesman is caused by people’s unwillingness to deal directly with their own lives making this movie a universal experience. The moral depth Farhadi created would captivate even Arthur Miller.
The Salesman screens Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Landmark Theatres, Pen Centre. Visit www.brocku.ca/bufs for details.
-Megan Forde, Contributor