The was awarded five stars on ST Life! movie review last Wednesday. Despite it being a Thursday night, the 10-row cinema was full. This academy award winner for best foreign film is obviously a hit.
The Iranian movie begins in court where Simin and Nader are applying for a divorce because she wants to leave Iran for their 11-year-old daughter Termeh’s future but he doesn’t because of his ailing father who has Alzheimer. Simin leaves the family home and he engages a housekeeper, Razieh. Razieh and Nader has an argument and he pushes her out of the house. She falls and reports him in court for her miscarriage, which he denies knowing she was pregnant. He is charged in court for murder but is given bail. The question is, does he or does he not know she was pregnant.
Nader denies knowing but his lie is caught by his daughter. Termeh is forced to lie in court to protect her father. Nader agrees to pay blood money to Razieh for compensation but only if she agrees she swears on the Quran that he was the one who caused her miscarriage. She refuses despite needing the money for her husband’s debt as she too is hiding something and swearing on the holy book might cause her daughter’s harm.
This movie tells the story matter of factly. There is no judgement on who is right or wrong, just how circumstances force the people to behave the way they do. They are torn between doing what’s morally right and self-protection. The only people judging the adults’ move are Termeh and Razieh’s young daughter. The parents want to be good examples for the children and teach them the right values like honesty, but we all know that values are not taught, but caught.
As a parent watching the show, my sympathy goes towards 11-year-old Termeh. She is forced to make difficult choices – who to live with, when to tell the truth. I thought she is very mature for her age,
This movie gives me a rare insight into Iranian society, where woman can work or drive but still needs a husband’s permission for many things. The muslim community adheres closely to their religious teaching, such that sometimes, common sense is clouded by what is permitted by the religion. Eg: Can the housekeeper clean a male patient who had soiled himself? Yet I was also touched by the camaraderie between the Iranian women, how they offer care to other women in need.
The movie does not have a feel good ending, but it makes you think – as a parent, your child is watching your every move.