ACCORDING to the dictionary the word chivalry is defined as, “an honorable and polite way of behaving especially toward women.” Believe it or not I remember a time when men would open a door for a woman or give up their seat on a bus or train for them. I can see where maybe some people would be slightly offended if they perceived the action as being dominant or chauvinistic. Personally I do not care if it is a man or woman; I think if the person is elderly it would just be a common courtesy. However, things changed the past few decades; I rarely see anyone giving up a seat on the bus, even if the person is holding heavy packages or a woman is pregnant. I am used to it now but I initially was surprised when I opened a door for a woman and was given a suspicious look. It was not the type of reaction I would have expected, figuring a quick thank you would have been the response. After several times getting similar reactions, it dawned on me that these women may have not experienced a stranger doing a kind gesture for them. What does that say about our society I thought? THOUGH I have seen the same type of scene in the movies, I remember being out at a club with friends and a man mistakenly thought a woman at the bar was single. He walked up to her and started talking; I could not hear him over the music blaring over the loudspeakers. At one point I did see the woman shake her head side to side which I took as her way of saying, “No.” I do not know what the man said but walking up behind him another man tapped him on the shoulder. It turned out the 2nd man was the woman’s boyfriend. Before you could stir the ice in your drink, the two men got into a shoving match and both had to be kicked out by one of the club’s bouncers. I thought the whole scene was intense until I watched this dramatic thriller. UNAWARE the former tenant of the apartment they were now living in used to entertain gentlemen callers; married actors Rana and Emad Etesami’s lives, played by Taraneh Alidoosti (About Elly, Beautiful City) and Shahab Hosseini (About Elly, A Separation), were drastically changed when one of the gentleman callers showed up at their apartment one night. This Oscar winning film from writer and director Asghar Farad (A Separation, The Past) was consistent with his other movies. A well thought out story about human emotions, told in a simple way. I enjoyed the story within story idea with the use of Arthur Miller’s play, “Death of a Salesman.” The acting was excellent and I will tell you why. These actors were in films I had previously seen by the same director and it did not register with me because the performances were so different in this foreign film. Another reason why I enjoyed this movie was because of my curiosity of other cultures; seeing how the average person exists in their own environment fascinates me. If I had seen this film before the Oscars telecast I too would have picked it for best foreign movie. Persian was spoken with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars
There is a method to my madness, just hear me out. Until I see a movie I avoid reading any reviews of it. I want to know as little as possible about a film, only allowing myself to see the movie trailer, though sometimes the trailer is better than the whole picture. After I have seen the movie then I will look at some of the reviews. This is why in my reviews I barely mention any particular scene details or facts about the story line. With today’s review, this is the perfect example to show you why I prefer to blindly walk into a theater with my mind an open and blank slate. I had no idea this dramatic mystery was directed by Asghar Farhadi (About Elly) who directed one of my favorite films of 2011, A Separation. Gratefully I did not know which movies won at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival because this movie was a winner. The only thing I knew when I went to see this picture was it had subtitles. The movie started and I immediately found myself in Paris, witnessing a separated couple finishing up the process of their divorce. There were children involved from past and present relationships; however, hanging over everyone like a dense fog, hampering everyone’s senses was a woman in a coma. Every scene in this movie had an authentic sense of true emotion; the cast could have easily been a friend, relative or acquaintance of yours because they never came across as if they were actors acting. They were just being real. Let me name a few of the exceptional performers: there was Berenice Bejo (The Artist, A Knight’s Tale) as the soon to be ex-wife Marie Brisson; Ali Mosaffa (Leila, The Last Step) as the Iranian husband Ahmad and Tahar Rahim (A Prophet, The Eagle) as the live-in boyfriend Samir. I felt as if I was a guest invited into the lives of these individuals, sitting with them when they were eating, wanting to comfort them when they were sad. There were no special effects needed, no sudden unexplained turns in the story that would leave one wondering; all that was there were genuine feelings of fear, guilt, love and doubt. This film is one of the reasons why I love going to the movies. I do not have to pack an overnight bag, wait in long security lines or dress in a particular way; yet, I do get to leave all the things that make up my daily life and experience for a moment how other people live their lives. The dialog was done in French and Persian languages with English subtitles.
3 1/2 stars