The Salesman: A high-brow whodunnit


The Salesman


For those of us who have sat through a high school English Literature class, the name of the latest installment of UW-Parkside’s foreign film series might ring a few bells. Perhaps, I first thought, it is a modern reimagining of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” set in Iran? Unless, I then considered, it has nothing to do with the play. However, I soon realized, that Miller’s play does feature, though its relevance to the main plot may not be immediately apparent.

Have a taste

“The Salesman”, released in 2016, follows the story of an Iranian couple, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana’s (Taraneh Alidoosti) forced out of their apartment when the building is structurally compromised. This unexpected relocation comes at a terrible time, as both are ameture actors in a local production of “Death of a Salesman”, but luckily one of the other actors owns an apartment building and happens to have a vacancy. The apartment is spacious and clean enough, but there is one strong drawback to the space: the previous tenant had left most of her belongings and an unsavory taste in the collective mouths of her neighbors. However, not to be discouraged by stories of the previous tenant’s multitude of gentleman callers, Emad and Rana move her old belongings out and their own in. So with everything going well, it is time for fate to chuck a wrench in the whole thing–an intruder in their home.

The cultured people like it too

The Salesman has garnered acclaim from film festivals, award committees, and likely your one friend who knows way more about movies than you. In the past two years, “The Salesman” won an Oscar for best foreign film, an Asian Film Award for best screenwriter, two Cannes Film Festival Awards for best screenplay and best actor, along with various other awards. Of course, if you don’t trust the fine men and women of the Academy Awards Committee, the film received a 7.9 out of 10 on IMDB, and is certified 96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. So, no matter who you ask, they are likely going to recommend you see it.

This praise is due, in no small part, to the film’s director and screenwriter, Asghar Farhadi. As is the case with many of his other films, Farhadi takes a thought provoking premise, and gives it a suspenseful, almost Hitchcockian twist. The film itself lacks the action of Hollywood blockbusters like Taken, but there is more than enough intrigue to keep audiences at the very edge of their seats.
Interested yet? Well, if you are, but missed its week-long run at Parkside, I highly suggest you look for a copy at your local library and give it a watch.

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