6. “The Past” - A beautiful woman walks up to and looks through a large bay window at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris to find the person she needs to pick up.
Shortly, a 40-something year-old man with a beard and scarf warmly smiles in her direction, and they comfortably wave back and forth.
Director Asghar Farhadi provides clues right away Marie and Ahmad had a close relationship, and it’s soon revealed they are married, but separated.
Unfortunately, we soon discover the reason for Ahmad’s trip from Iran to Paris: the pair will formally divorce, and this opening sequence sets the tone for Farhadi’s thoroughly compelling film.
Farhadi - who also wrote and directed “A Separation” (2011) which won the Best Foreign Language Oscar - is an uncanny master at drawing heaps of dramatic tension through the art of conversation by introducing characters with built-in conflicts and stressers.
Like any great storyteller, he does not reveal his secrets right away.
Over the course of 2 hours and 10 minutes, however, several truths reveal themselves like water drops falling from a leaky faucet at a slow and steady pace.
One absolute truth is Marie's divorce is the least of her problems.
She’s involved in a tangled domestic mess, and the newly inserted Ahmad attempts to bring clarity to a series of half-truths.
He does not necessarily untangle Marie’s issues, but unwittingly shines a bright light on them.
“The Past” is an exceptionally written and strongly-acted picture and carries a deeply involving narrative.
The film moves huge swings of emotion with feather-like graze, or sometimes it smashes us over the head with a theatrical sledgehammer.
It is a a complicated and emotionally rich drama which somehow started with a simple and innocent meeting at the airport.
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