The Past (2013 Cannes review)

May 17, 2013 9:47 PM

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The Past (2013 Cannes review)

One of the constant challenges for screenwriters is trying to condense the complexity of human beings into an accessible feature-length presentation. In real life, it can take months—maybe years, maybe never—to fully understand another person. (And that’s if we’re lucky enough to even figure out ourselves.) Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi is restrained by the same obstacles that other filmmakers are, but somehow he seems capable of developing incredibly complex and nuanced characters. They’re layers upon layers, contradictory and mysterious, still revealing things about themselves even once we think we have a bead on them.

Farhadi’s new film, his sixth as a director, is The Past. Like his previous offering, the Oscar-winning A Separation, it concerns romantic relationships, family, and the maddening inability to get a handle on the people around you. And once again, he is incredibly fair and generous to all his charac...

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