Review – The Past

The Past Poster

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, of the award winning A Separation, presents another drama about broken marriages.

When Iranian Ahmad returns to France at the request of his wife, Marie, in order to finalize their divorce, he’s drawn back into her life, as well as the lives of her new suitor, Samir, Samir’s young son, and her daughters.  Things are not as simple as any of them would like them to be and soon tensions rise as allegations are thrown about – the biggest of which is who is responsible for what happened to Samir’s wife.  The answer to which may or may not surprise you, if you can make it that far into the film.

The Past is getting rave reviews.  I’m sorry, I don’t get it.  Yes, Farhadi approaches some difficult issues with meaningful hand, but meaningful doesn’t have to mean painfully slow and mundane.  There are no real emotional peaks as the characters float through the events of the film mostly feeling sorry for themselves or annoyed at each other, but rarely to the point where it seems to mean anything.  Half the dialogue is about nothing, while the other half seems forced and stilted – though I will concede that the subtitles may be to blame there as I do not speak French.

Perhaps I just can’t relate, having not dealt with divorce, depression, and suicide in my life directly.  You would think, however, that a film that delves into those dark topics would be at best compelling and at worst, depressing and disturbing.  But no, as the characters try to wrestle with guilt and doubt, the movie moves from one boring scene to the next.

Perhaps I paint a picture of someone whose film pallet is not developed enough.  Maybe I just can’t appreciate the fine wine type qualities of a subtle character drama.  No, I don’t think that’s it.  I think this movie is just boring, far too deliberate and slow.  Even the ending, which should feel like a hit to the gut given the circumstances, doesn’t seem like much at all due to not feeling anything for the characters, and being so drawn out that we see it coming from a mile away – sorry for the cliche, but the ending is one itself, so that’s okay.

I’m sure that the right people, the same people who claim claim to taste the difference between types of bottled water or $500 vs. $400 wines, will enjoy this film.  Maybe some of you will genuinely find something to appreciate in this film.  (I did like the cinematic theme of filming conversations through glass)  If so, good for you – I’m still open to the possibility that I just don’t understand it.  But I don’t think so.

Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film

My rating: Two out of five hats

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Trailer:

The Past looks back on a limited number of theaters, January 10