گذشته / Menneisyys / Det förflutna. FR/IT © 2013 Memento Film Production / FR3 – France 3 Cinéma / BIM Distribuzione / Alvy Distribution / CN3 Productions. P: Alexandre Mallet-Guy. D: Asghar Farhadi. SC: Asghar Farhadi, Massoumeh Lahidji. DP: Mahmoud Kalari – digital – Arri Alexa, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses – colour – 1,85:1 – distribution: DCP. PD: Claude Lenoir. Makeup: Lucia Bretones-Méndez. Hair: Fulvio Pozzobon. M: Evgueni Galperine, Youli Galperine. S: Thomas Desjonquères. ED: Juliette Welfling. C: Bérénice Bejo (Marie Brisson), Tahar Rahim (Samir), Ali Mosaffa (Ahmad), Pauline Burlet (Lucie), Elyes Aguis (Fouad), Jeanne Jestin (Léa), Sabrina Ouazani (Naïma). Loc: Paris. Original in French. Helsinki premiere: 29.11.2013, distributor: Cinema Mondo, suom. tekstit / svensk text Outi Kainulainen / Markus Karjalainen – dvd: 2014 Scanbox – MEKU K7 – 130 min
2K DCP from Cinema Mondo
Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (French Summer), 10 Aug 2016
Wikipedia synopsis: "Ahmad, an Iranian man, returns to France after four years to finalise his divorce with his wife Marie. On the way to her home, he learns that she has begun a relationship with Samir, the owner of a dry cleaning service and he is to share a room with his son Fouad. At Marie's request, he speaks to her daughter from a previous marriage, Lucie, regarding her recent troubled behavior. She disapproves of Marie's new relationship."
"Ahmad and Marie attend court to complete their divorce. Just before the meeting with the officials, she tells him that she is pregnant with Samir's child. Ahmad continues to counsel Lucie, hoping to reconcile her to the situation. She reveals that Samir is still married and his wife is in coma after a suicide attempt, caused by the revelation that Samir and Marie were conducting an affair. Samir tells Ahmad that his wife suffered from depression and the suicide attempt was in fact caused by an incident with a customer in his shop. His wife was unaware of his affair and he arranges for his employee, who witnessed both the suicide attempt and the incident in the shop, to meet with Lucie. After hearing her story, Lucie becomes distressed and confesses that she forwarded Marie's emails to Samir's wife the day before she tried to kill herself, after calling her at the dry cleaning shop. She disappears and Ahmad and Samir search for her. Ahmad finds Lucie, who has been staying with a friend, and tries to convince her to tell Marie what she did, saying that she had a right to know, now that she is carrying Samir's child. Lucie does so and Marie becomes enraged, telling Lucie to leave. Ahmad calms the situation and Lucie returns."
"After questioning what feelings he may still hold for his wife, Marie tells Samir what Lucie did. Samir finds this hard to accept and questions his employee, Naïma, about the events leading up his wife's suicide attempt, who states his wife wasn't even in the shop the day that Lucie said she called. After Marie accuses Lucie of lying, Lucie maintains her version of events saying that she spoke to a woman with an accent on the phone. Samir realizes that she actually spoke to Naïma, who then gave Lucie his wife's email address. He confronts Naïma, who confesses and explains that his wife had always been jealous of her and had been trying to get her either sacked or deported from France and had initiated the confrontation with the customer. However, Naïma believes that his wife never read the emails, because she came into the shop and choose to drank bleach in front of her, instead of in front of Samir or Marie."
"Samir and Marie discuss the events and their relationship. Marie decides that they should focus on their future, while Samir appears conflicted. Ahmad prepares to return to Iran. He says farewell to the children and attempts to talk to Marie about the end of their marriage, but Marie does not let him stating that she doesn't need to know such things now. Meanwhile, Samir visits his wife in hospital with a selection of perfumes, which the doctors have recommended in order to possibly initiate a response. He sprays on some of his cologne and leans over her, asking her to squeeze his hand if she can smell it. A tear runs down her face and he looks down at her hand, which is holding his."
AA: I found Asghar Farhadi's A Separation (2011) a masterpiece immediately. Yet I saw Farhadi's next film The Past first now, perhaps because of reserved reactions by people I know.
The Past is more plot-driven than A Separation, and it proceeds as a series of revelations where we keep learning things that fundamentally change everything we believed we knew. The film is very well made. Its general sense is about the precariousness of life: how little we know. This has also a distanciating and alienating effect to the characters and the film itself, but not in a Brechtian sense.
A hallmark of the Iranian cinema is the strong presence of children, and that is a strength of The Past, as well. All the children – Léa, Fouad, Lucie – are important, individual, and interesting. The young actors are brilliant. The grown-ups have made a mess of their lives. I bambini ci guardano. These children are disturbed, and we feel concerned for their need of a basic security.
My main problem with The Past is about what sense we should make of Marie. Either her character is underdeveloped – or the viewpoint of the director on her is underdeveloped. Marie's grip on life is not very good, but what should we make of that?
My verdict: The Past is imperfect. But I look forward to seeing all films by Farhadi, one of the most distinguished directors working today.
The Past is the first Farhadi film that has been shot digitally. It is largely a chamber piece where the digital is perfect in interiors. Exteriors look ultra sharp in a digital kind of way.
P.S. 14 Aug 2016. Douglas Sirk: "I am extremely interested in the contrast between children and adults: there is a world looking at another world which is going downhill, but this new world does not yet know if its own fate will be the same... The look of a child is always fascinating. It seems to be saying: is that what fate has in store for me, too?" Jon Halliday: Sirk on Sirk. London: Secker & Warburg with the British Film Institute, 1971, p. 107
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