We’ve all probably done it. Pressed the intercom key release indiscriminately, thinking the caller is someone expected.
That’s what Rana does, expecting her husband as she prepares to take a shower.
The upshot is a devastating seismic incident, a potent aftershock to the earthquake that begins THE SALESMAN, this years recipient of the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.
This Iranian bombshell explodes into an exploration of a couple imploding. School teacher Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and his wife Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) need new digs when their home is devastated by an earthquake.
The couple are also actors in an amateur Tehran production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and a member of their troupe arranges for them move into a new apartment, until recently occupied by a mysterious young woman.
Unbeknownst to them, the previous occupant was using the apartment as her place of business, a personal services business, and at least one of her clientele was not privy to her change of address.
When Rana innocently and inadvertently allows access to an anonymous caller, a violation sends shock waves through the marriage, the theatre company and the broader community.
As Rana draws herself into the shadows, Emad sets out for revenge, opening fissures and causing fractures to his relationship with Rana, his colleagues, and his own core values.
Writer/director Asghar Farhadi has once again written a superlative script and realised its execution to finished film in exemplary fashion.
His previous two films, A Separation, also winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and The Past, were exquisite examinations of the complexity of human relations, especially within a family, and with THE SALESMAN he delicately nuances Arthur Miller’s classic into the scenario.
Just as there are, obviously, audiences for one of the classics of modern Western literature in contemporary Iran, Western audiences will certainly respond to the domestic upheavals in the situation presented in THE SALESMAN.
Farhadi establishes a parallel with the personal life of the couple, and their “on stage” life, Emad and Rana playing the roles of Willy Loman, the salesman and his wife. Fact does not mirror fiction exactly, but there is a deliberate and palpable mimicry.
Shahab Hosseini and Traneh Alidosstie are splendid as the splintered spouses, circumstances plunging the latter into a paralysing passivity, the former into a fury of over reaction.
Thrilling, thought provoking, and thoroughly captivating, THE SALESMAN has a pitch you’ll be pleased to pursue.