Farhadi won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival for this classically structured, brilliantly acted melodrama set during the seaside vacation of a group of old college friends. The movie’s early scenes have something of Chekhov to them (by way of The Big Chill), as the vacationers arrive at the ramshackle beach house, mending broken windows and doors while rekindling old friendships and rivalries. The lone interloper in the group is Elly (Taraneh Alidoosti), a teacher invited along by the enterprising Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani), who wants to pair Elly with her newly divorced friend Ahmad (A Separation star Shahab Hosseini), who’s flying in from Germany for the weekend. Then, one afternoon, Elly abruptly vanishes, setting into motion an escalating series of deceptions and disquieting revelations concerning both the missing woman and those around her. NOT ON DVD.
“A masterpiece…Gripping as sheer storytelling, the plot smoothly raises some unusual moral questions. It touches on masculine honor, on the way a thoughtless laugh can wound someone’s feelings, on the extent to which we try to take charge of others’ fates. I can’t recall another film that so deeply examines the risks of telling lies to spare someone grief. But no more talk: The less you know in advance, the better.”
–David Bordwell, Observations on Film Art