Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s award-winning film The Salesman (Forushande in Persian) centers around the notion of love, friendship, trust, revenge and forgiveness. If you have seen Farhadi’s previous films like About Elly or The Separation you know they leave you with more questions than answers. In The Salesman Farhadi skillfully peels layer after layer and leaves you with what is essential to any relationship – trust, love and forgiveness. The film also give us a view of modern day Iranian society and the toll that censorship takes on a society.
Central to the film is the relationship between Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidosti) a husband and wife, who are passionate about theatre. The couple along with their friends are in the process of staging a Persian version of Arthur Miller’s The Death of a Salesman. The couple’s happy life is rudely interrupted one night when they discover their apartment building is collapsing. They leave their home and have no idea how and where they will find a new home to rent. As luck would have it their theatre colleague helps them find a new apartment. When they move into their new place the couple discover that one of the room contains the previous tenant’s possessions. For some inexplicable reason the previous tenant (a woman) appears to have vacated the apartment in a hurry. Emad and Rana treat it as a minor & temporary inconvenience that they don’t have access to the previous tenant’s room. They settle down to resume their life and the rehearsal of their play.
One evening Rana hears the bell ring just as she is going in for a shower. She unlatches the front door for Emad and slips into the bathroom. That is the first twist in the narrative and changes into a whodunit film. Turns out it was not Emad who rang the bell, but a stranger, who sexually assaults Rana. When Emad comes home that evening he discovers what happens to Rana he is devastated. Why was Rana assaulted and by whom? Could there be a connection to the previous tenant, who left behind her belongings? This is when the film becomes interesting as we follow Emad’s painful journey to track the culprit that ends on a rather unexpected note.
In 2012 Farahadi won an Oscar for his film The Separation. In 2o17 The Salesman won an Oscar nomination in the foreign film category and is a strong contender in this year’s Oscar race. Farhadi along with his cinematographer Hossein Jafarian was planning on attending the Oscar awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Due to the recent US travel restrictions on citizens of Iran Farhadi will not attend the Oscar awards ceremony. He issued an official statement saying that he will not attend the Academy Awards ceremony in February.
The Salesman released in the San Francisco Bay area on Feb 3, 2017.
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