Last weekend the Parkside foreign film series screened The Past, a 2013 French film directed by Asghar Farhadi (who the year previously had the film, A Separation, nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars). The Past stars Berenice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, and Ali Mosaffa in a “divorced couple and new man sexual-tension” triangle filled with drama.
The way that the film begins leaves the audience to wonder what the relationship between Marie and Ahmad is, as they seem to fit so naturally together. Usually when a couple comes together to get divorced, there is a bit of hostility towards one another. The way that these two characters relate to each other, in an almost loving manner, sets the grounds for everything that will come to play in the entirety of the film. The director uses many doors and windows throughout the film to separate the actors from the audience, almost as a way to give them privacy so that the viewer cannot hear or see what they are talking about. Although this may be frustrating to some people, I found that this made the film even more intimate than it already was.
The storyline also does a great job of showing family as they truly are in today’s day and age. The traditional nuclear family of the 1950s doesn’t exist anymore, that is simply a fact. With divorce rates skyrocketing and people being remarried after having children with past lovers, the world is constantly being mixed up with families not being related by blood but being forced to live with each other as brothers and sisters or stepmothers and stepfathers. Even with the children that seem to be very close to Ahmad in the case of this film, he is not their father. In reality, Marie has been married three times in the lifespan of her eldest daughter, which leads the viewer to believe that her youngest and oldest daughters are not from the same father. With the way that this unconventional family functions, with rough times and make ups, this film shows a great deal of respect to the dysfunctional yet happy families of today.
This film is refreshingly real. The way that it was shot was amazing in the sense that the director was able to make the people real, and the screenwriter was able to make a family that I believe all people, no matter what their own family looks like, can relate to. With superb acting and a story that keeps the audience’s attention for the entire duration never fully knowing what will happen, even after the ending, my only criticism is that I want more.
Article by Krista Skweres