Review of The Past

The Past (2013)
18 November 2020
Warning: Spoilers
In the past there are neither good nor bad, only people who suffer from the consequences of what happened long ago. Marie is pregnant with her third child, each from a different father. Samir, the father of the unborn, remains emotionally anchored to his wife, who is in a coma after attempting suicide after discovering evidence of a relationship between her husband and Marie. In this context, Ahmad, Marie's Iranian ex-husband, lands, as if she were the Messiah, who seeks to understand the rebellious attitude of Lucie - Marie's eldest daughter - and sign the divorce papers. Perhaps this very modern way of seeing marriage had not passed Iranian censorship, which explains the first European artistic emigration, since the film was shot entirely in France and mainly in French, a language that the director claims not to master.

Farhadi shows a special touch as a screenwriter when it comes to showing the conflicts and chooses to establish the motive for the suicide attempt of Samir's wife as the main question through which to unravel the story and highlight the grudges. However, what crowns him as a great storyteller are the small details. In this regard, it is worth highlighting the use of symbolic scenes, such as the one in which Ahmad puts the chain on Fouad's bike as soon as he arrives home - a reflection of the state of the family upon arrival and an anticipation of its fundamental role in the family, which makes it work- and the scene in which Marie and Samir carry a series of weak glass lamps in the car - an allegory of the fragility of their relationship at this point-. But, above all, the transformation of Marie's house as a vestige of the progress of family relationships and the progressive abandonment of the burden of the past. The first (Min. 18) corresponds to the first act of the film: the family is in the process of being improved and the house is to be renovated. The second (Min. 50), belongs to the second act; in which there is evident progress both in the family and in reform.

In this way, the characters' relationship with her reflects their position on it: Marie is unable to do it herself - in fact, her wrist hurts from so much painting - Ahmad is heavily involved - often with such unpleasant tasks. like unclogging the drain- and Samir who collaborates, but also suffers from an allergy to painting -representation of his emotional indecision between the past and the present: between his wife and Marie-.

It would be easy to fall into telenovelesque melodrama with this type of family film, but Farhadi opts to show the choral protagonism in a more emotionally austere way. However, it is never boring. In The Past, Farhadi measures the dramatic pulse and distributes the twists throughout the film, causing the inevitable attraction of the viewer to the story. As if they were Russian matrioskas, the small - and perhaps too many - secrets are revealed in a masterful exercise of dramatic storytelling.
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