In a broader sense, we might expect the film to be critical of Iranian society. Although its events are embedded in the fabric of modern Iran, I’m unable to determine what its opinions are. All the important characters in the film are seen positively. There are no bad people here. Nothing that happens is the “fault” is anyone. They are good people facing impossible questions of the heart. In his Oscar-nominated screenplay, what is Farhadi’s point of view?
“I’ve always felt that the filmmaker’s point of view is secondary to the way that the film is accomplished,” he said. “That’s what really links the viewer to the film. The viewing public sees a series of images and either embraces it or lets it go. For me the cinema has always been the most important thing — and features like being critical only come next. Being critical doesn’t add value to a film, any more than a choice of genre does. It really comes down to precise and focused writing and structure.
“Instead of the expression of ‘critical cinema,’ I prefer to use the term ‘questioner cinema.’ I like to put a question mark around the issues I’m concerned about. This is a way of inviting the viewer to critique, without my views getting in the way. I prefer to add numerous question marks to every issue. I think a cinema that asks questions is preferable to a cinema that is stylistically critical.”
I just watched A Separation two days ago and thought it was as excellent as all the critical praise suggested. Farhadi’s notion of a ‘questioner cinema’ is an interesting one, I am trying to think up some examples of other films that might suit this description. Any thoughts? It is a clever tactic as I have to agree that films that wear their criticality as a stylistic/genre choice lose themselves in it, reduced to polemics. Farhadi’s film and screenplay are totally evenhanded, uncynical, and non-manipulative; such a strange and wonderful contrast to most films, especially in Hollywood, where the viewer is pulled along, lectured, and manipulated by events and characters with no depth beyond their artifice as straw constructions for plot development or emotional currency.