Tell Me Tehran (Film Thoughts: The Salesman)

large_Salesman-poster-2017‘The Salesman,’ directed by Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi, won the Best Foreign Language film at this year’s Academy Awards, and it caused a controversy because Farhadi sent a message when he won that he did not attend the awards ceremony in solidarity with his countrymen whose country was one of the ones banned by the Trump Administration.

This is one of the most stressful films I have seen in a long time, and I mean that in the best way. It’s akin to a modern-day Hitchcockian thriller, set in modern day Tehran. It tells of a married couple who moves into a new apartment. Then a sexual assault happens to the wife, Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) and how that affects their relationship. Her husband, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) takes matters into his own hands, doing a DIY investigation of what happened to his wife. By and by, the couple are a husband and wife acting team starring in a stage production of ‘Death Of A Salesman,’ playing Willy and Linda Loman.

The film can be pretty hard to watch, especially the latter part. It also seems a little stage-y, the conflict heightened by enclosed spaces. The acting here is magnificent, as you get to see Alidoosti’s Rana change from someone who felt assaulted, violated, and frustrated then seeing her react to how her husband take revenge for it. And it seems that for Emad, his dignity and ego is more important than anything else. The ‘revelation’ at the end is a double-edged sword – you are mad at the perpetrator but couldn’t help but feel sorry for him at the same time. As I said earlier, I felt the tension between thee characters so vividly I thought I would need anxiety battling pills. This film certainly deserves the awards it won, and though it took me forever to see it, I am very happy to experience this film.

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