Le Passé (The Past)

le passeLe Passé (The Past)
Dir: Asghar Farhadi, French/Iranian, 2013

This is an emotional drama with a strong cast of characters, which unravels slowly in twists and turns to keep you wondering who you should sympathise with and who you can trust.

The first shot is of Marie who has come to collect Ahmad, her estranged husband of four years, at the airport. They first see each other through a glass panel and try to communicate. However, neither can hear the other and perhaps this is what the director is touching on as his theme for the film: how we spend our lives not properly listening to or understanding each other.

Ahmad has come to Paris from Tehran, to sign divorce papers so that Marie, who is pregnant, can marry her new partner. Marie insists that Ahmad stays at the family house, in order to spend time with Marie’s daughters from a previous relationship and with whom he was once obviously very close. Ahmad learns that Marie and her eldest daughter Lucie are not getting along. Ahmad tries to bring mother and daughter back together, to reconnect, and soon discovers a secret, which Lucie has been keeping to herself, and which is causing her a lot of heartache.

Into this mix comes Marie’s new partner, Samir, who has a young son and whose wife is in a coma, having tried to commit suicide. Again more secrets are slowly revealed along the way until, at the end, although all is resolved, the viewer is left with so many questions to work back through. I had to sit in the cinema for five minutes afterwards to try and piece it all together. My friends and I continued to discuss it all the way home as it certainly raised many questions for each of us.

I loved this film and found it totally engrossing. It was refreshing to see a film, set in a Parisian working- class environment and the domestic scenes were incredibly natural and real for me. The performances by the children are outstanding in this film, especially Samir’s young son, who brought tears to my eyes in several scenes. As for the adult actors, you’ll recognise Bérénice Bejo from The Artist and Tahar Rahim from A Prophet. All of the adult performances were brilliant.

Verdict: a must-see if you like strong character films that don’t race along but move at a measured pace. It’s totally absorbing and is a good film to watch with a group of friends as it leaves you asking lots of questions afterwards, which you’ll want to talk through with somebody over a glass of wine.

Top tip: Watch the end carefully or else, like me, you might miss it and will need to find a clip on YouTube to replay it.

 

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