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By Troy Ribeiro 


Film: "The Salesman"; Director: Asghar Farhadi; Cast: Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti, Babak Karimi, Farid Sajjadihosseini, Mina Sadati, Maral Bani Adam, Mehdi Kooshki, Emad Emami, Shirin Aghakashi, Mojtaba Pirzadeh, Sahra Asadollahe, Ehteram Boroumand, Sam Valipour

 

"The Salesman" is a tense but not entirely satisfying drama that explores themes of guilt, honour and morality as its main characters grapple with issues of situational ethics.

Like his previous films, the three elements that make writer-director Asghar Farhadi's films stand apart are: they cover morally grey areas, have ambiguous endings and have a slice of Iran.

This one is set in Iran with Arthur Miller's classic play "The Death of a Salesman" as the backdrop.

The story is simple, the couple Rana (Taraneh Aildoosti) and Emad (Shahab Hosseini) essay the main characters of the play as a recreational activity. Their plight is then juxtaposed with the characters they portray.

The film begins with a freak accident that leaves their home in shambles. This makes them shift base. At the new apartment, Rana is attacked by an intruder, one day. She is shaken to the core, but she lifts her chin, dusts the burden of self-pity and ventures to re-establish herself in a state of weightless normalcy.

In contrast, Emad, desperately seeking to regain control of his suddenly derailed life while needing to protect and shield his wife, seems to be caving under the pressure of his own contradicting duality of guilt and responsibility.

How the incident quickly adorns their skin amid wrinkles of instability, forms the crux of the tale.

The director succeeds in involving the audience, making you fear and worry for his protagonists.

The film is not completely well-rounded, but it is an engrossing drama in its own right. This is evident, when it winds down to a very sinister powerful climax which is completely gripping and keeps you at the edge of your seat, especially in the final scenes, where a new group of characters are introduced.

It is the natural performances of the cast that cuts deep without pushing. Kindness, fear, worry, anger, tension and innocence, reflects unsurprisingly and that is what makes the film appealing as it makes you reach an emotional status without realising it.

With moderate production values, the production designs, cinematography and editing are simple and haunting. The background score is equally evocative.

Overall, the film, packed with forced symbolism, is a beautifully rendered piece full of nuance and subtlety. It moves along slowly but always keeps the audience captured with its intriguing intelligent quotient and bubbling tension.

 

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