THE SALESMAN — Review by Susan Granger

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Iran’s Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film is another marital drama from Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi (“The Separation”). When Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) Etesamis are forced to evacuate their crumbling Tehran apartment, they move into a more dilapidated abode, one that was previously occupied by a single woman with a young child. The clutter she left behind when she was evicted gives subtle clues as to who she is and the promiscuous life she led. She’s described as “a woman with lots of acquaintances…who lived a wild life.” Read on…

Emad and Rana are both actors, working in an amateur theater company’s production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” playing Willie and Linda Loman, respectively.

There are problems translating the blunt sexuality of this American classic for an Iranian audience, particularly the local censors. Although it’s not immediately apparent, this play-within-a-play takes on subtle significance.

One day, when Emad is out, the doorbell rings. Thinking it’s her husband, Rena unlocks the front door and goes off to take a shower. But it isn’t Emad. It’s a stranger who brutally assaults her and flees, leaving his keys and his minivan outside.

Rana never saw her attacker, nor do we. When Emad suggests going to the police, emotionally devastated Rana refuses, explaining, “I don’t want to have to tell it in front of everybody.”

Indeed, Rana would have to justify why she left the door open and, inevitably, her reputation would suffer. She feels shamed, guilty and afraid to be alone, while enraged Emad is determined to track down the intruder and wreak revenge. Which he does.

When the culprit is revealed, it’s a total surprise. And the final confrontation between the Etesamis and Rana’s shadowy assailant is a riveting revelation.

Asghar Farhadi builds a suspenseful, if contrived thriller that’s haunted by themes of inadequacy, intimacy, respect and, as Miller says, “Attention must be paid.”

In Farsi with English dialogue, on the Granger Movie Gauge, “The Salesman” is an engrossing 8, an empathetic commentary on contemporary Iranian society. Read my review of Asghar Farhadi’s “The Separation.”

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.