Everybody Knows Farhadi’s a Master at Moral Dilemma

I’ve loved every Asghar Farhadi film, specifically four to be exact: About Elly, A Separation (Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Film), The Past, and The Salesman (Academy Award Winner!). Each as hauntingly memorable in its own right, that try as I might, I can’t choose one that is notably better, they’re all fine films. Feel free to search for my past reviews of those gems by plugging in Asgahr’s name in the search engine.

Signature to Iranian director Farhadi’s style is the moral dilemma. In his newest film Everybody Knows playing at Burns Court, this is no exception. Secrets are revealed that bind people together, in this case the ever gorgeous Penelope Cruz and her real life husband Javier Bardem. Without giving spoilers away, you often hear true life stories where teenage love haunts us well into adulthood. While Cruz and Bardem are not married in the film, Farhadi’s choice of pinning them as star crossed unrequited lovers is a work of genius.

Javier Bardem, in fact, is the Atlas of the film, doing the mountain share of nuanced inner struggle and portraying this beautifully on screen. His exasperation in his line to friend Fernando, “Oh don’ don’t f*** with me Fernando,” is gut wrenchingly real.

Set in Madrid, Farhadi also takes his time in establishing the passionate culture, the duty to family, the wild celebrations. His layering of difficulties, wanton teenage behavior, rain storms and power outages, never seem cliche. His ending as with all his films is a non-ending, meaning there are more moral dilemmas that ripple like a rock thrown in a stream that grant further discussion once you leave the theater.

While not his most superior film, Farhadi’s Everybody Knows is worth seeing and with any smarts other writers and directors will pair Cruz and Bardem together again.

First World Silly, Third World Smart

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that sadly many Americans have a superior attitude about us vs third world countries. But let me tell you, my weekend movie experiences would shatter this myth for anyone with an ounce of intelligence.

First, I saw the super tardy Rochester premiere of 2009’s Iranian film “About Elly” by Asghar Farhadi. I really liked two of his other films: “A Separation” and “The Past”. “About Elly” may have trumped both, both is acting and suspense. If you are a Netflix customer, run, don’t walk to your queue and add this film.

Without any spoilers, let me just say it’s a film about four Iranian couples who go on a weekend to the beach together. While all of the acting was phenomenal, I will make a special mention for Golshifteh Farahani, http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=golshifteh+farahani&view=detailv2&qft=+filterui%3alicense-L2_L3_L4_L5_L6_L7&id=50F7A614EC0BD10B8C5A01C7B919654272CD2CE3&selectedIndex=0&ccid=Gia44K6B&simid=607996803959884415&thid=OIP.M1a26b8e0ae81b0d5bae2f226b4b8fc10H2&ajaxhist=0, who plays the most pivotal female role of Sepideh. Nuances of the Iranian culture are gorgeously portrayed and the uncomfortable moments carry acute verisimilitude.

On the other hand (cue Yankee Doodle Dandy), I also saw “The Martian”. Ugh. I love Matt Damon and he stretched the most out of the cotton candy plot. But shame on him and all the other first rate actors for doing absolute schlock. Literally Jeff Daniels phoned in his role and I think Dumb and Dumber Too truly took more acting chops.

I will definitely join any picket line protesting the lack of African-Americans nominated because both Straight Outta Compton and Dope are FAR (yes capital letters) superior to the ra ra shallow American “The Martian”.