"Revenge Can Destroy Relationships"
What You Need To Know:
Though THE SALESMAN is Farhadi’s most intriguing and emotionally engaging dramas, it still moves very slow, but it’s never boring. Where the movie shines is how it elicits empathy for various characters and the situations they find themselves. This creates immense tension with conflict that would seem mundane by Hollywood standards. Thematically, THE SALESMAN is about how bad decisions, even very small ones, can fracture our relationships. Though set in an Islamic culture, it’s a secular movie that avoids specific religious topics. Because of some thematic material and brief foul language, strong caution is advised for THE SALESMAN.
(B, Pa, L, V, S, M) Light moral worldview where revenge is shown in a negative light, and the effect it has on relationships can be detrimental, with a few references to God and prayer, though in an Islamic culture; five obscenities and three profanities; though it’s not shown or entirely revealed how it happened, woman’s head is gashed after being attacked, and an old man is hit in the face and has a heart attack; no actual sexual content, but it’s implied a woman is a prostitute; no nudity; no alcohol; no smoking or drug content; and, revenge but rebuked and lying.
THE SALESMAN is a slow moving drama from Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi, who broke out when his successful 2011 movie A SEPARATION became the first Iranian movie to win an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. His follow-up movie THE PAST drew critical praise at the Cannes Film Festival, but wasn’t nearly as financially successful as its predecessor. THE SALESMAN may be Farhadi’s most compelling story yet, but it ends on a bit of a sour note.
Emad and Rana are a young couple in Tehran who are forced to find a new apartment after their current living space nearly collapses. Both Emad and Rana are actors in theater. They’re rehearsing for a local version of Arthur Miller’s DEATH OF A SALESMAN. One of their fellow actors, Babak, owns an apartment that’s available, so they decide to move into the flat. As they move, it’s revealed that one of the former tenants, an implied prostitute, still has her belongings in a room and refuses to move her stuff until she can find a new place to move it.
One day while Emad is out, Rana leaves the apartment door open, expecting Emad to return any minute, and takes a shower. When Emad returns home, he sees blood on the floor. He rushes to the hospital to find that his wife’s head is being stitched up. Neighbors had heard Rana screaming and found her lying on the bathroom floor. Her attacker had gotten away, but in doing so, left his truck keys and money in the apartment.
The days following the attack, Rana tries to forget what happened, not wanting to involve the police. Emad, however, wants justice and tries to track down the man who hurt his wife. Will the incident break up the couple’s relationship?
Though THE SALESMAN is Farhadi’s most intriguing and emotionally engaging drama, it still moves very slow, but it’s never boring. The performances and direction are very strong. Where the movie shines is how it elicits empathy for various characters and the situations they find themselves. This creates immense tension with conflict that would seem mundane by Hollywood standards. Farhadi won the best screenplay award at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. THE SALESMAN has also been nominated by the Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Movie.
Thematically and worldview wise, THE SALESMAN is about how bad decisions, even very small ones, can fracture our relationships. It’s a morality tale that warns about the dangers of spiraling down the path of self-destruction. However, like Farhadi’s previous movies, THE SALESMAN ends in brokenness instead of resolution. Rana warns her husband he’s pursuing revenge. However, just as he realizes this and seeks to turn away, it becomes apparent it’s too late, and he’s already gone too far.
Though THE SALESMAN is set in an Islamic culture, it’s a secular movie that avoids religion, other than a few references to “thanking God” or “praying.” Because of some thematic material and brief foul language, strong caution is advised.