The Past

the past posterHere is one the films that some might call a masterwork but beware … Since his previous success with A Separation, the Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi has become one of the rising figures on the international film scene. Far from being handicapped by the language barrier, he directs his actors with acute precision, even if it means filming in France, with French actors.

The actress Bérénice Béjo is at the center of this film and her performance is surprisingly subdued, even if she still carries the scars of her silent performance in The Artist, accentuating at time her gesture and facial expressions – for example, watch closely the scene at a crowded, noisy, airport terminal where she seems to overdo it in order to convey emotions amid the chaos. But is she really overdoing it or is just a way to convey the couple’s communication issues?

While watching The Past, you will probably ask yourself a lot of questions and chances are the answers will surprise you every time, the relationship between the characters shifting constantly as drama develops. The main strength of this film is obviously the actors’ performance (Béjo quickly shades off her excesses to finely tune her acting): just like if they were walking on a wire, their characters manage to keep their balance, advancing slowly but surely. Asghar Farhadi’s script however suffers from being overwritten, as everything seems to have been planned meticulously – after a while, this makes you anticipate what’s to come, overshadowing in the process some of the performances  (more particularly Ali and Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet and Tahar Rahim). With a clockwork precision, Farhadi delivers one twist after the other, every time shattering even more the fragile bound holding a family together. Revealing one shocking secret after the other, the script becomes somewhat ridiculous, giving you at times the feel you are watching some cheesy soap.

In the end, does it really matter who’s done what? Farhadi would have gained exploring those relationships closely rather than diluting them – and the audience – in a strong dose of dramatic suspense. Both his direction and the performances get spoiled by a showy script that tries to be too smart for its own good. The film does have some strong scenes – most particularly the embarrassing meeting of two men in a kitchen – but these moments are too rare to save The Past from its pretentious, exaggerated script.

Director: Asghar Farhadi – Actors: Tahar Rahim, Berenice Béjo, Pauline Burlet, Ali Mosaffa – Running Time: 2:10 – Year: 2013 – Country: France

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Moland Fengkov

Moland Fengkov

Based in Paris, Moland is a journalist and photographer; He is more particularly responsible for covering the Cannes film festival for Plume Noire, writing movie reviews and taking gorgeous pictures.
Moland Fengkov

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