The Past (Le Passé, France 2013) directed by the Iranian helmer Asghar Farhadi opens Dec 27 at Landmark Theatres in San Francisco. Nominated for the Palme d’or at Cannes this past May, the film was a favorite of the critics and the official jury headed by Steven Spielberg awarded Bérénice Bejo best actress at the festival.
Set in Paris in weather that is constantly rainy, Farhadi's backdrop focus is on Iranians and other expatriates living in Paris. Bejo's character Marie is a woman who calls back her husband Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) from Iran in order to divorce him, a man who deserted her four years ago in order to return home.
Marie is now living with a young Arab man named, Samir, (Tahar Rahim) whose wife is in a coma in the hospital after a suicide attempt. Marie’s children, a teenage daughter Lucie, and younger daughter by a pervious marriage live under the same roof as her new lover Samir and his son.
Ahmad is a cool, intuitive type how knows how to get along with these children even if Marie seems to only be able to give birth to them. Indeed she is pregnant one more time with Samir. It is perplexing why Marie remains in constant confusion and it is a difficult role role for Bejo to navigate, which she does brilliantly.
The script and dramatic development of this film makes "The Past" an exceptional film. Layer by layer, the director reveals the saga of a complicated relationship in this family. It is not clear that it is the past that is disturbing as much as how these children unearth the difficulties in these adult's lives in order to give them clarity.