After the splendid Academy Award winner A Separation written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, the talented filmmaker brings us The Salesman, another drama that triumphed at the Oscars, winning Best Foreign Language Film. Thomas Brownridge takes a closer look…
The Salesman follows the married life of Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana Etesami (Taraneh Alidoosti). Emad is a full-time school teacher and moonlights as an actor along with his wife. The film’s title comes from the post-war play Death Of A Salesman by Jewish-American playwright Arthur Miller.
Within The Salesman, Emad and Rana must move flats because of a sudden earthquake that cracked the walls of their block. One of the actors from the play suggested living in one of his flats that he owns. Emad and Rana are willing to have a look around and decide to take the offer. This is where the storyline gets interesting. As the couple move into their new home there is a sense of the unknown leaving you on edge, wanting to know more.
Rana is about to take a shower, while Emad is collecting items from a nearby store. When the intercom rings, Rana assumes it is Emad so leaves the door open for him. When Emad returns, there is a trail of blood down the main stairwell to the block of flats and Rana is now missing.
The films boasts credibility but its themes have been done before. However, as the story unfolds it takes a darker turn into an increasingly provocative revenge story. This is where we become completely engaged in Emad’s desire to pursue the person that injured his wife.
Emad is a caring person as seen with his students at the school and in the theatre where the play is being rehearsed. However, a certain issue in life takes control over his morals. Emad tries to come to terms with the attack on Rana as he says to her, “We need to go to the police or forget this ever happened”. This normal behaviour is inevitable if something like this happened to a love one.
Shahab Hosseini who portrays Emad has once again fulfilled the role of this loveable but aggressive character. He has worked with director Asghar Farhadi before in A Separation, which shows the passions of director and actor, working together to bring two different sets of characters to life.
Rana is performed by Taraneh Alidoosti who has also worked with Asghar and Shahab before in About Elly (2009). Her performance was satisfactory until the third act when she showed the emotions that no other character had done before this point. Taraneh pinpointed the exact moment she would shine within the film and it worked brilliantly.
The way that Asghar Farhadi portrays his villains is through the norm within society. We presume that villains in the west are either gangsters or have a sense of means to their doings. However, Farhadi places a normal, vulnerable person in the centre of the vicious attack. Which shows the wrong doing within all societies that can be judged upon mistakes or acts of crude.
The Salesman has its flaws but ultimately is a fantastic drama that plays off themes of revenge and remorse. It is surprising at how the villain is thought to be someone well-known to the characters, only to be found out to be someone that is respected within society.