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  • Warning: Spoilers
    In The Salesman the actors starring in an Iranian stage production of Death of a Salesman live parallel tragedies on and off stage.

    The first shot is of a rumpled marriage bed, the setting for intimacy and sexual drama. Those values adhere even when the situation is a theatre set. The narrative unwinds from a reported sexual scene, where the heroine is somehow violated by a stranger in her shower.

    Using an American classical play sets off an immediate contrast between the Iranian and American cultures. The Arthur Miller play anatomizes the shallowness and materialism of American capitalism. It establishes a struggling low-born salesman — Willy Loman — in the function of the traditionally high-born tragic hero.

    An Iranian production of the American classic would be expected to emphasize the superiority of the Iranian culture. Hence the gaudy summary of the US in the set's neon Casino and Bowling signs.

    But the choice of a Miller play pays respect to the freedom that political theatre enjoys in America. Hero Emad is delayed that fateful night when he has to stay to deal with the state censors who want to make three cuts in the script. As a literature teacher he's again frustrated when the school rejects his three texts as inappropriate for his teenage boys class.

    Despite that puritanism the Iranian society is also riven with sexual temptation. Emad explains that the woman who objected to sitting beside him in the taxi had probably been discomfited, perhaps even molested, by another man on another shared taxi ride. The pictures Emad finds on a pupil's cell phone are probably like the raunchy stuff on American boys' phones. At the other extreme the pathetic old man is tempted to sin by the sight of the showering Rana.

    That schoolboy's not having a father sets a pattern of missing or questioned manhood. The supporting actress has a little son but is separated from her husband. The little boy's obtrusive glasses suggest a preternatural vision, lending weight to his line: "If my father phones say I'm not in. I like Mommy more." The boy lives his mother's life so completely that he not only attends her rehearsals but joins the curtain call onstage.

    The central issue is how Emad and Rana deal with her violation. If Willy Loman's downfall is his seduction by the American myth of popularity, Emad's is for the Iranian myth of male honour.

    Because the man is held dishonoured by his wife's shame Rana is more traumatized by the old man's appearance in her shower than an American wife would be. Not till the end do we realize that she was not raped and only injured herself by falling through the glass shower door. To avoid further shame Rana determines not to go to the police. She remains traumatized by the experience, too ashamed to return to her professional activity of being watched onstage by men.

    With his honour pre-eminently at stake, Emad resolves upon revenge. He tracks down and traps the villain. When Rana sees him, she determines to prevent Emad's plan to shame him before his wife of 35 years, his daughter and her fiancé. "If you tell them we are finished."

    Emad seems to accept her decision. A largely decent man himself, when he sees the old man and his family he relents and seems ready to let him leave. But he has another score to settle. He gives him back the money he left behind, then slaps him. That last action pushes the ill geezer over the edge. With his death, Rana's love for Emad is finished too. His insensitivity to her trauma was bad enough — It's a guy thing — but his insistence upon revenge, a fatal excess, is to her unforgivable.

    Like Rana's shame, Emad's revenge is based on the Iranian principle that a woman serves her man's honour. After her initial trauma Emad seems to feel more violated than his wife. After she labours over a special dinner Emad refuses to eat it because it was bought with the intruder's money.

    At the heart of Emad's characterization is his exchange with a student over a story: "How does a man turn into a cow?" "Very gradually." Determined not to be a cow, a wus, Emad plunges bullheaded toward a revenge that costs a man's life and Emad his marriage. Against the current of both Iranian and American culture, this film emphasizes the woman's merit as a civilizing, humanizing force.

    The first Miller scene we see is where his son catches Willy in a hotel room with a local floozy. That costs Willy son Biff's respect forever. Emad's vengeful plan is to similarly expose the old man before his wife and daughter. It's as If Emad took his strategy from the play instead of from his wife's better sense.

    The omission of Death from the film's title points to another key difference. We see Emad as Willy, dead, in his coffin, while wife Linda grieves at the paradox that she has just paid off their mortgage: "We are free!"

    But the film ends on Emad staring stolidly, vacantly, as his makeup is peeled off. The character is dead but the actor is alive. But his marriage is dead and so Emad is no longer quite alive. He's an image of death in life, literally alive but emotionally dead. His revenge killed him along with his enemy. In Death of a Salesman we see the themes and events through to Willy's death. In The Salesman the death is omitted because at the most superficial level the hero remains — however emptily — alive.
  • James_De_Bello5 January 2017
    After having just moved into their new home Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), a couple of fellow actors find themselves in a difficult home life situation after a violation of their home. S they go through the performances at the local theater of Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman' their relationship takes a left turn from which it might not ever go back.

    I tried to keep the synopsis as vague as possible so not to spoil the film, since, as in most of Farhadi's films, the inciting incident comes in later in the film and the drama ultimately does not develop until the third act, something that this director likes to do and at which he excels, always giving priority to the space in which characters develop and live their everyday lives.

    And those are exactly the reasons why "The Salesman" is a fantastically subtle and morally complex revenge tale masked as a home drama, which has some of the best work by actors I have seen in 2016, even though this might be too slightly of a familiar territory from Farhadi.

    It is no coincidence that Shahab Hosseini won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, if there is one reason why this film succeeds it is him. This performance is raw and authentic in its own unique way, he manages to guide us through every one of the stages of degradation his character goes through and he manages to do so without us noticing. On a surface level the character arch he goes through would be hard to believe, there are some changes that wouldn't appear natural when spelled out. Yet, Hosseini manages to sell us on this person and all of the turbulence he has to go through, he manages to enhance little moments that I can't imagine working on paper. He fits right into the world that Farhadi builds and comes out giving a powerhouse of a performance that guides the audience through the whole narrative.

    Certainly, Farhadi deserves to share some of the credit for the performance too, for many reasons. Firstly, just as in all of his film, the performances across the board are just flawless, he directs actors to perfection and he doesn't even give you a chance to realize this. The way in which he uniquely manages to capture everyday life is profoundly stunning. From the camera-work to every detail of the blocking of actors right down to every word they say, the fabric of ordinariness he succeeds in putting on screen is flawless. I have no idea if this is all meticulously thought out or if it is left to brilliant improvisation and I don't want to know, what is clear to me is that as a director his methods work excellently and the results he manages to produce on screen are remarkable.

    Then, when it comes to building the drama, Farhadi is just as masterful. The evolution of it is natural and doesn't ever feel forced upon the characters, the parallels traced with theater might be a little too on the nose, but they are stunningly relevant and used to an incredible cinematic effect. He manages to build and build the drama and make it culminate in a riveting finale where all of the themes and the moral questions the film asks flow out naturally from it and leave you hanging at just the right moment. He also manages to build a complex web of visual cues and use them effectively to complement the characters and the story, once again here the visual parallels with the theater are a joy to see unfold.

    It has to be said that this is very familiar territory for Farhadi, the contrast of personal justice versus institutionalized justice is very relevant is his past film "A Separation" and so is the outlook on revenge, the degrading and the toll it takes on the individual and the destructive results of it. Sometimes it even feels like he is retracing his steps and for someone who has seen his film this might result in a slightly predictable outcome, even though the self contained drama in the film never looses its relevance to the characters, ultimately resulting in a constantly fascinating watch that challenges the viewer and defies traditional cinematic beats and expectations
  • This is a true masterpiece, one of the best films of the year. Even though Farhadi's 'A Separation' is even better, this is a great display of storytelling and psychological understanding of the director. There are three elements that ought to be highlighted. 1) Without gimmicks and hyperboles it shows how a common man, with his natural strengths and flaws, gets his own moral code defied by the violence that exists in all societies but that in this case, touched his family. 2) The visual language. Again, it's subtle and straightforward, but its always at the right distance of the characters. 3) The counterpointing of Miller's play is marvelous! What happens to them in real life always affects the development of the play and the tensions backstage have a richness that takes the audience to a new level. A must-watch!!!
  • necid-7096724 October 2016
    Masterfully shot in Teheran, the film follows the ill fortunes of a theatrical married couple who, while rehearsing Miller's play Death of a Salesman, find themselves having to abandon their crumbling apartment and to seek alternative accommodation. The film is openly an allegory about social, urban and marital decay. But way beyond it, it is about the costs of masculine pride. By far more than a very good 'Iranian film', this is a superb statement about the unbearable consequences of trying to live up to codes of honour that centre on the female body. In my opinion, actress Taraneh Alidoosti is the hero of the film, both in her performance and in the role she occupies in the script. In contrast to appearances, she is the mover of everything that takes place in this fantastic film. A cinematic poem and a masterpiece in unfolding the twists of human psychology.
  • mhm_13715 September 2016
    Gradually (highly recommended to read these two plays before watching this movie 1.Cow by Gholam Hossein Saedi and 2.Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller) The salesman is really breathtaking and it has all the familiar factor of Farhadi's movies with a big difference that there is not any sign of those open ends anymore and you associate with the main character of movie more than any time. The story is about a young couple (Emad and Rana) who are performing at Arthur Miller's play Death of a salesman. They have to move to another apartment because their apartment is going to collapse. This moving cause a serious issue in their life because of the old tenant. In the beginning of the film when Emad_ with brilliant performance by Shahab Hosseini_ and his students was reading Saedi's play Cow, one of his student asked him "Sir,How does a man become cow?" Emad answered: "gradually". This question and Emad's answer are the main theme of this movie. Farhadi has used some part of the play Death of a Salesman in his movie masterfully and he has chosen Emad for the Willy's role in order to show and emphasize how Emad gradually got far away from his family or even his wife just like willy. The last twenty minutes of film are really breathtaking and the spectators associate with Emad more than anytime and I think they regularly ask themselves "if I were him, what would I do?" The salesman is a story about revenge or with accurate express is a story about the motivation of revenge. This story like another Fahadi's movies occurs in a family and effects family members. After A separation and now with the salesman Farhadi can be considered as a great master in directing suspenseful family drama like Hitchcock.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There is no one to be judged except us, who are now watching the movie in around the world and in different countries with different cultures. As you see, no wall is seen between the rooms in the "Death of a salesman" play by Arthur Miller. The director, clearly states how good it would be, if you try to think about the least s in your life as they're the reason for most of the problems you may be encountered with. You as the watcher feel no wall around the personal life of Rana and Emad as there is no in Arthur Miller's, "Death of a salesman". Even the camera tries to convince you how to find your way, while in most of the vital situations of the movie, it makes you to think by having a look at those Hitchcock's brilliantly used elements in a form of close up. Like Farhadi's previous movies we are going to see a vast of classes in a society; How they act when they face with a problem and how good or bad they are at understanding the situation. The movie starts with a medium close up of Linda and Willy Luman's bed, continues through the first scene which is the problem they have with their flat and ends up with another close up of those meaningful cracks on the window and the bulldozer which ruins the house next door in order to make a new one. Farhadi considers the flat as the society, cracks as a result of forgetting morality and bulldozer as a symbol of forgetting plumbs. Rana feels no love for Emad and so does Emad. We understand this when we see their bed, the way they act, the way Emad most of the times argues with Rana and etc. Even when Rana prepares their bed before taking a shower, the way she throws Emad's pillow on the bed, proves this. They want to give their relation another chance by having a baby as it seems from Emad's joke while he is talking to Babak on their first visit of their new place. However, in the dinner scene, Sadra, who is a 4 or 5-year-old boy, shows that having a baby is not a key to their success in saving their relation as, Emad even forget to consider her wife's feelings and doesn't consider her kind behavior and efforts on preparing such a simple but lovely supper and just follow on his own traditional thoughts with regard to the problem they both are challenging with. Farhadi shows how bad it would be if you judge someone without experiencing the situation the people are in by showing the scene in which Emad is checking Ahoo's answering machine, reaches to the Ahoo's daughter's message which shows how responsible her mom is and what a beautiful love is between them just like a normal mom and daughter in a normal family or by showing the child's painting on the wall, shows a daughter with two moms on her right side, proves she likes her mom who has just become a slut because of her terrible situation. After the rape scene, Rana has become depressed not because of that event but because of this fact that she chooses to have her husband's attention by misusing her condition. Emad also has started a journey to corruption while he chooses revenge as a way to show her wife that he is still in love with her. He forgets everything and doesn't consider that he has gradually turned to a cow just to save his wife. In Saedi's story which we see during the high school scene we have the same segment in which the farmer has turned to a cow just because of the love he feels toward his cow. Emad misuses of his situation and ruins his life while, Rana acts like a bulldozer and ruins their love by her misunderstanding from the word, Love. Willy has also done the same thing with his child, Biff while, he tells him lie, forget morality and sticks on finding another way to solve the problem rather than telling him the truth about his unlawful relation with that slut in his room's bathroom. The movie reminds us that forgetting morality is the worst possible thing when it shows an old experienced man who has done such a bizarre act with Rana. You may ask yourself how it could be possible for an old man like him to do something like that and escape that fast but in my opinion it was a taunt by Farhadi shows even Rana and Emads' neighbors have forgotten their ethics while they didn't help Rana in time and by telling lies to Emad want to define themselves as folk heroes. Those bloody footprints close to each other, proves my word that the intruder had the required time to escape and no one has even tried to stop him on his way. The neighbors by not being committed to their responsibilities toward Rana and Emad have also made the situation worse. They also have forgotten their moralities. Farhadi reminds us how bad it would be if we forget morality, start judging others and forget ourselves. "The Salesman", proves that we all may gradually turn to cows if we forget who we really are!

    Faithfully yours,

    Amin Ghanbari

    October 30, 2016
  • I loved how this movie had some women characters that shows the exact situation of Iranian women. The old lady: "Oh...thank god you are alive.Thank you for saving him.He is my everything.I can't live without him."These are the words of an old lady in a 35 year-old marriage toward his husband which has been cheating on her for 3 years!How dumb is she!? It's the story of many women in Iran which because of their situation should obey their husbands and love them blindly. Raana: She has been raped but she doesn't have the courage to sue also she is so embarrassed that this may become a discredit to her. The prostitute: Imagine A mother with a young daughter what should she do for a living?Nothing in a society specified for Men but to sell her body to those Men! And finally the woman in the taxi: This woman knows the situation of all the women above. she is now a women who had lost her trust to all men.Either something happened to her or to her friends she now sees men all like together.She's so paranoid that she doesn't see that Emad is doing nothing.

    -- spoilers alert --

    There are many other scenes i loved about the film for example when one of the student asked "how does a man become a cow?"and Emad answered "gradually" and It was actually proved during the film when an old man doesn't find it shameful to touch someone's wife while a kid find it shameful to go to bathroom with his mother's friend!!So again a man gradually becomes a cow!! -- spoilers end --
  • Asghar Farhadi is an amazing director. His 4 films are nominated for Oscar in a row. Amonth them, "A Separation" won the first Oscar and Golden globe to an Iranian movie. His direction style and making always impress me.

    "The Salesman" is the story of a couple who move to a new apartment, unaware that it was occupied by a prostitute before them. A customer of the old tenant makes a visit to the apartment that makes the couples life upside down.

    The husband is searching for the visitor for a revenge, but ends up in a sweet revenge story, or so called.

    I was so impressed by the movie that I have no words to explain or describe it. Asghar Farhadi's free and candid type of visuals makes the movie more lively. Close ups make the drama more intense.

    The movie is such an emotional drama that you don't want to miss.

    A must watch. Highly recommended.

  • I am struck at the complexity of this film, and the reflective nature of its narrative structure. Action or events as a device to look at our natures, choices, motives, drives and dreams. And let's not stop there. How about actors acting theater scenes, and throw in a play within a play to boot, for good measure.

    I know I sound somewhat critical above, and under less skilled hands, such criticism would be warranted. But not here. THE SALESMAN is compelling from beginning to end. And using Arthur Miller's iconic play, THE DEATH OF A SALESMAN, works so well to comment on these character's dreams, failings, nobility and humanity.

    A dream -- or rather dreams -- shattered by a single, accidental, innocent incident. At the end of the journey, of our own Odyssey, whether we arise as a hero or a victim depends on our choices, our attitudes, our sheer willfulness for goodness or our tendency for self-destruction. To me, this movie raised these issues, and more. I loved it. Compelling through and through, and from a most-gifted, cinematically articulate director.

    Scoring the different elements of the film objectively, 1 to 4:

    Script/Story: 4, loved it. And all this set against a backdrop of a crackling, fall building; a house of cards, if you will.

    Cinematography/Visual Effects: 3.5. Well shot. Close shots heightened the tension.

    Editing: 3.5. Well edited; kept the pacing of a natural thriller, but lacked the cheesiness of one.

    Sound Effects: 3, competent sound mixing

    Musical Score: 3; frankly do not recall any musical score underscoring the film. This is sad as I should have noticed. Was there one?

    Performances: 4, extremely strong performances. Great ensemble work, and standout work by the two leads, and the old man, too. I was particularly touched by the scene between the two men when the lead told the old man to take off his shoes. This scene was so effectively shot. Slow pacing of the camera capturing every quiver of both performances. Wow.

    Production Design: Sets, Locations, Costumes, etc.: 2.5; my complaint here deals with the shots from the theater itself where DEATH OF A SALESMAN was being performed. Needed something more here.

    Would you recommend this movie to a friend? Absolutely; a fine work of cinema. And extremely provocative. Well written; well shot; well delivered. Most highly recommended. Strong Oscar contender for Best Foreign Language Film.
  • The Salesman is Asghar Farhadi's 7th Feature film and the 4th in which he reunites with Taraneh Alidoosti.

    The film centers around a married couple who are in middle of preparation for their adaptation of Death of a Salesman for stage. The film begins with this couple having to evacuate their apartment due to excavations happening next door. They're forced to look for a new apartment and they managed to do so through their friend played by Babak Karimi...and that's all you need to know about the plot because I feel like giving away more would diminish what this film is trying to achieve.

    I feel like The Salesman follows a similar formula to About Elly . It's expertly written and it managed to hook me from the very first scene all the way to the last. The viewer is not presented with the central issue of the film from the get-go (unlike a Separation), but rather the film follows normal day-to-day life of the characters and that creates a sense of anticipation in the viewer. That feeling of anticipation in About Elly made it so special for me and Farhadi follows the same formula here again.

    I was never a huge fan of A Separation and I've always considered the massively underrated About Elly as Farhadi's best film , but If you've seen and enjoyed either of those films, then The Salesman is for you.

    This is probably the most mature and well crafted Film from Farhadi so far. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to seeing it again.

    Oh and It's probably worth noting that the film received a standing ovation at my theater.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If you haven't watched Farhadi's new release already, then prepare yourself for yet another suspenseful, infuriating, domestic crisis, or in brief, a Farhadi's plot. One worthy of the classy Palme D'or apparently. Not as intricate and open-ended as his previous ones, but in the same neighborhood.

    ******* SPOILERS AHEAD **********

    Emud and Raana are in a rush to evacuate their collapsing house and move to a new flat which was, unbeknownst to them, formerly inhabited by a prostitute. Raana gets assaulted by an intruder one night, who seems to be a client of the previous lady. Emud, filled with rage, seeks for his revenge of course. Raana, on the flip side, prefers everything to be forgotten. Contrasts evolve between the two as we move further, to the extent that they begin to reconsider their relationship.

    What triggered Farhadi to make his new title back in his hometown, in my opinion, was the need for a serious heads-up towards where the society is going. "The Salesman" is a social criticism in its core and thus more bound to Iranian context and culture. Although the plot's conflicts and themes appear not to be uniquely Iranian but certain references are quite foreign for an outsider audience.

    The couple lives in a society where everything is misplaced. Law and security systems have basically lost their functionality. Peace and pleasure is sought outside the family and words of truth are spoken not in the real life, but on a theater stage while playing roles. Raana decides (out of her shame) that there's no need for police to get involved. Emud begins his own investigations and at the end both debate on how to punish the guilty guy, to top it all.

    So when the victim turns into a detective and ends up as his own judge, all by himself, there's one thing for sure; The society has failed to its furthest extent.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Let's start with the fact that I like 'About Elly' from Farhadi and believe it still is his finest to date. Unfortunately, 'The Salesman' is a Felix Baumgartner-ish free- fall.

    Farhadi writes the dark side of the society. His works often depict the cynical side of human nature. And, his prose is usually honest. BUT:

    Regarding The Salesman:

    1- There is utterly limited characterization. Farhadi fails to build the main characters. Prior to the incident (first twenty minutes or so), we do not get a sense of who these people indeed are. Thus, after the incident, we cannot connect to the couple, even considering the nature of such an inhumane episode. There is no frame of reference, no baseline.

    2- Characters are floppy and sense-less. I know that it would be difficult to 'talk' about such an incident and that's where Farhadi intends to go, BUT who COULD make spaghetti and listen to music 48 hours later? does not make sense. I have not seen more apathetic characters and I certainly do not see the 'destruction' of the family. Where is the inner conflict? show me! A perfect example would be the couple from Rabbit Hole (2010). I live with them.

    3- The aforementioned destruction could be 'shown' in the house, instead of the set of The Salesman. Borrowing from Miller's play is futile, in my opinion.

    3- 'Mannerism' kills the script. Farhadi brutally eradicates the script by cutting the scene, 'make a statement' about the society, and proceeding to next one. These unnecessarily statements do not rise from the characters, but the director. Examples: Classroom or the roof.

    4- There is no tension. Farhadi provides little regarding the incident, other than the aftermath of a bloody floor. I understand Farhadi ultimately favors linear narrative. But perhaps for this specific case, a chronological narrative weakens tension.

    5- I was hoping to be impressed, at least, by the encounter of Taraneh (Rana) and the old man, but truthfully that is one clumsy barren scene. Everything - all the feelings - should be revealed on the old man's / Rana's look, but we get a disappointing shot and a sense-less "sorry". Just compare the look on Mads Mikkelssen in Jagten (2012 - Church scene) or even the looks on Gosling and Stone (La La Land - final scene) and the non-existent one here. Case in point.

    6- The plot is haphazard with several holes. It's not even remotely Cannes material, let alone winning the prize.

    I expected more with all the hype around the film, but am left with a confused chaotic film which leads us nowhere.

    Looking forward to Farhadi's next one.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Asghar Farhadi's films A Separation (also Oscar gold) and About Elly (not Oscar-recognized, but pretty good nevertheless) were shocking films. Not just for their stories- Farhadi does excel in intense and gripping drama with a touch of mystery to them- but for the face they put on Iran, very different from what many viewers go in expecting. Where are the cries for jihad? The outcry against Great Satan? The plots to wipe Israel off the map? The burning people in the street? Why are they living in apartments and homes and not caves? Farhadi certainly does give us more of that here. Early on, we hear a cell phone go off with a very familiar ringtone, and the protagonists are performing Death of a Salesman. You might think the US is banning these people for a reason, but Farhadi's films show us that, apart from a big difference in government, Iranians themselves are like people anywhere. Substitute "Muhammad" for "Jesus" and "Koran" for "Bible" and his films could be set in Kansas or Mississippi.

    As for the "intense and gripping drama with a touch of mystery" part, The Salesman also delivers once again. This touches on the issue of violence against women, with the protagonist trying to uncover who assaulted his wife. But the film also deals, in a very human way, with the trauma his wife lives with in the aftermath. There is intensity in the climax- is there going to be revenge? The Salesman is no tasteless rape-and-revenge movie; it's a finely crafted drama that can be different things at once.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Disappointed! Confused! Even angry. How is possible that such a „masterpiece"contains so many plot holes? Where is the motivation of the characters? Why don't they react like normal people? Does Mr. Screenwriter want us to understand anything or just to trust his genius? Why did the old man attack her? How could he hurt his foot from the glass on the ground, despite wearing shoes? How can he run in hurry but leave the money? How did he have time to take of his sock and why did he leave it in the flat? Why did he leave money anyway? How the husband finds key and mobile phone only few days after? Why no one from the shop didn't ask about the truck for several days? Why she is ashamed to go to the police, if all neighbors already know what happened to her? Why the husband never touches or holds her? Why neighbors didn't call police? Why this film did win Oscar? Why it was nominated? I really don't understand, please help me...
  • ndjalazova22 February 2017
    I love Iranian movies and the Separation is one of my favorites. Somehow with the Salesman it did not work out. The script is original but the story develops so slowly and drowns out. You do not feel the real drama and the true massage behind it. The director probably wanted to repeat his success using the same means as in the Separation but it lacks originality, something thrilling and insightful acting.
  • The name of the film "Salesman" have 2 coincident meanings at the same word: one of the meaning is pertaining to the first role actor in theater who his occupation have to sales somethings in term of managing his life poorly and another meaning is affiliated with a woman (ex- tenant of the apartment) who sales her body in an inappropriate way for making money intentionally. In addition, aforementioned movie show us that taking revenge is not really easy when we imagine ourselves in that situation because if you are there instead of guilty person, maybe you act worse than him. What's more, Audience during watching these Sequences, face with a dilemma between forgiveness or revenge which this atmosphere is entirely fantastic and make us satisfied after watching this terrific film.
  • Asghar Farhadi's 5th consecutive masterpiece is a tour-de-force of top-notch storytelling & top-tier acting from the master storyteller that's sincere in its approach, elegant in its portrait & grounded in its execution. Sincere in its approach, elegant in its portrait & grounded in its execution, it is structured & paced in a way that grips its audience like a tense thriller, and culminates with a deeply upsetting, gut-wrenching & soul-shattering finale.
  • asc8517 July 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    I'm someone who really liked, "A Separation," so I was looking forward to this film which has of course received high critical acclaim. The first half of this movie was compelling...what happened to the wife, and will they find the person who attacked her? But then when the "explanation" is given, it doesn't really make any sense, and the question really isn't answered. Why do I say that? Because the guy accused of attacking the wife doesn't seem like he'd be able to do it. So what is the explanation for that? There is no explanation. Oh well.

    So then I decide to watch the extra on the DVD, where the director explains what he was trying to accomplish. This will surely help me understand this picture better! But it didn't. Apparently, to really "get" this film, you have to be well-versed in the play "Death of a Salesman," (which I read in high school, by the way), which is also being performed by an acting troupe in this movie. Seriously! So I guess I just wasn't smart enough to appreciate this film. I guess all the critics who loved it and the Academy who gave it the Best Foreign Film Oscar are much smarter and hipper than me.
  • Mixing Hitchcock for suspense and Ibsen for realism, writer/director Asghar Farhadi takes his own spin on those masters to create a psychological thriller that is as much about domestic unrest as it is about who broke into the home and brutalized Emad's ( Shahab Hosseini) wife, Rana (Taraneh Aldoosti).

    Although Emad is obsessed with finding the intruder, Rana seems to be ambivalent and uncertain how to proceed given the many subtle ramifications around truth. The story, mesmerizing in its little twists and turns, eventually turns on discovery and the tyranny of revenge (ask Othello about that one).Yet the pace is deadly slow:

    Student: "How do people turn to cows?" Emad: "Gradually!"

    Unobtrusive direction is the key to this Foreign Language Oscar winner, whose slow distribution and character revelation could go on without those reveals. But not Emad, who pursues truth like a Greek tragedian, slowly realizing his steps are jeopardizing everyone involved, even the perp. The infamous Iranian spirit of honor is present in a barely hidden form.

    Even Farhadi's sets are as tight as his frames, suggesting imprisonment when liberation would seem to be the goal. Farhadi has also framed the story with the husband and wife performing in Death of a Salesman with why Willy is Emad becoming clear at the end.

    The Salesman is rich in simple but powerful story, first-rate directing, and allegory waiting to be found. Although it seems Iran's social unrest could be the subject, the broader humanity of going where one should not go and forgiving when it is not obvious why are also prominent. Add to those the figurative trope of leaving well enough alone when exploring someone close, like a wife, rings true for those who have discovered, truth may not set them free.

    "Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift / As meditation or the thoughts of love, / May sweep to my revenge" (Hamlet,1.5.29-31).
  • In his new film 'The Salesman', Iran's great writer-director Farhadi fashions another Shakespearean-level drama from a relatively minor event. The story begins with a residential apartment building undermined by reckless construction. As a result, a Teheran schoolteacher/actor is forced to move into new accommodation with his actress wife, just as they open a stage production of Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman'. On Emad and Rana's second night in their new home, Rana leaves the door unlocked anticipating Emad's imminent return from the supermarket, and an intruder enters while she takes a shower. Rana suffers a head injury and concussion in a bathroom confrontation, before the stranger flees.

    In the claustrophobic atmosphere of Iran's sexually repressive culture, the ripples from this episode grow into a tsunami which threatens to overwhelm the lives of this sympathetic couple. While Rana hesitates to report the matter to the police due to a sense of shame, Emad sets about discovering the intruder's identity from clues left behind in the apartment. His journey into dangerous territory is observed in Farhadi's customary style, until the story arrives at a final act which is excruciating for its unbearable tension and emotional intensity.
  • Emad Etesami (Shahab Hosseini, "About Elly") and his wife Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti, "Atomic Heart"), a childless married couple in their early thirties, are amateur actors playing the lead roles in a local production of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," a play in which a good man's virtue turns to hypocrisy and his marriage crumbles. Like Willy and Linda in Miller's play, the husband and wife in Asghar Farhadi's ("A Separation") Oscar-nominated film The Salesman talk to each other, but it is always seemingly behind a veil until unforeseen events uncover buried aspects of each one's character that blurs the dividing line between the theater and real life.

    As well as being an actor, Emad is a high school literature teacher respected by his students who is first seen in a classroom discussion about the short story "The Cow" by Gholem-Hossein Sa'edi, an Iranian writer and political activist. When one of the students asks Emad, "How does a man become a cow?" Emad replies, "Gradually," little realizing that his answer would become prophetic. The scene then suddenly shifts to a suburban apartment where Emad and Rana are seen running with other residents to escape the building's crumbling facade.

    In a politically-sounding exchange that somehow eluded the censors, Emad says, "We ought to take a bulldozer, knock this whole thing down and start over," whereas a neighbor tells him, "We already did that and this is what we got." Fortunately, stage manager Babak (Babak Karimi, "The Past") helps the young couple find a vacant two-bedroom apartment on the top floor of a building but fails to tell them that the previous occupant, who has left most of her belongings behind, was a prostitute, described euphemistically in the film as "a woman of many acquaintances." When Emad is out one night, Rana lets a stranger into their apartment thinking it's her husband, and is assaulted in the shower.

    The incident takes place off-camera and the exact nature of the attack is never made clear. The event, however, puts a strain on their marriage. Like Willy Loman who is unable to give his wife and family the good things in life, Emad wonders why he was unable to protect his wife from assault and becomes irritated with her fear of being alone, a situation that disrupts his teaching schedule and, in one instance when she agrees to perform, causes him to cancel a performance of the play in the middle because of her breakdown.

    Speculating that his wife was attacked by a former client of the previous tenant, Emad does not report the incident to the police but takes it upon himself to track down the perpetrator using such clues as a cell phone, set of keys, and a pickup truck which the attacker carelessly left on their street. Determined to seek revenge and unwilling to see events from Rana's perspective, he berates her for letting a stranger into their apartment. When her feelings are marginalized, the film becomes more about the treatment of women than about what happened or who committed the crime, revealing how a man's anger, bruised ego, and disdain for his wife's feelings threaten the very thing he is striving to protect.

    To Farhadi, the key to understanding the film is empathy. He says, "When you try to make your movie as close as possible to real life, you give the audience the opportunity to watch it from different aspects. I'm always working towards empathy," he says, "even with the characters that do wrong. The films where characters are heroic and do lots of great things are satisfying and comfortable to audiences. But I want audiences to put themselves in the shoes of characters who have done something wrong." Regardless of whose point of view you ultimately sympathize with, The Salesman is a powerful and brilliantly executed film about revenge and its consequences that enhances Farhadi's reputation as one of the most important filmmakers of our time.
  • The draw of director Asghar Farhadi oeuvre at times feels very political. The widening cultural, religious and diplomatic gap between the United States and Iran has thus far been stabilized by chilly detente of necessity. Yet if we take our current political climate seriously, such distanced estrangement wont likely last past the New Year.

    Still film artists like Farhadi, Mohsen Makhmalbaf and the late Abbas Kiarostami have been at the forefront of this complex sandbox of truces and tough talk, making films about Iranian society that easily find reception among America's leftist intelligentsia. Their work, while often critical of Iranian society, nevertheless channels some powerful messaging. They often feel like cries for temperance and peace in a world that becomes ever more belligerent with each passing moment.

    The Salesman doesn't break that continuity, once again garnering a cultural exchange while engaging its audience with an innately human story. The film begins abruptly with a young couple, Rana (Alidoosti) and Emad Etesami (Hosseini) being forced out of their apartment in the middle of the night along with their neighbors. Their building has become unstable after an earthquake and they are desperate to find a place to stay. Babak (Karimi), a fellow player in the couple's production of "Death of a Salesman," suggests they replace one of his tenants who has been struggling to pay her rent.

    To explain more would ruin the discovery of one of the most morally complex and painfully human stories since A Separation (2011) to come across the screen. All of the character choices seem genuine and perfectly understandable given the circumstances yet the buildup from those decisions come back in interesting and often devastating ways.

    Emad, a schoolteacher, approaches most of his problems through an amalgam of analysis and judgment yet the implications of the script trap him in a doleful dilemma he simply can't shake. So too does the script trap the sensitive Rana, who at a pivotal moment becomes fractured like the windows of the couple's slowly collapsing apartment. She suffers through sullen drifts and withdrawals, angry outbursts and bouts of pity; and does so through a filter of feminine devoir.

    As our female lead, and really, our emotional interpreter, Taraneh Alidoosti's is frightfully on point. Her continual work with Farhadi over the years seems to have given her the ability to really take chances with this role. Her every gaze feels like a provocation and her character's improbable honor wells with a sense of sad power thanks largely to her expressive face.

    The fact that The Salesman features Arthur Miller's ode to the common man is very appropriate indeed. While the play within the movie balances themes of justice, trust and the abstraction of political violence, the film takes those same themes and filters them through the emptiness of personal revenge. How appropriate then that Emad, plays Willy Loman, a character who's powerlessness leads to his ruination.

    Much like About Elly (2009) however, The Salesman has a habit of reaching its moral conclusion far before reaching its actual, physical conclusion. The third act, while strong and refreshingly classic in its humanism, can't help but feel like it's dawdling; leaving its human frailties exposed like bleaching bones. Additionally, in today's political climate, Farhadi's chase for universality can't help but look like he's purposely pandering to his western audience. Don't get me wrong, the film is still very much a depiction of modern Iran in microcosm, but now there's a lens of compromised diplomacy.

    That said, The Salesman is still a strong work of social commentary that approaches the staid, workmanlike zenith of Farhadi's best works. Shahab Hosseini and especially Taraneh Alidoosti are pitch perfect as a young, childless couple that struggle with tough moral dilemmas and the feckless invisible structures that force them to plow through them.
  • I'm sure the play Death of a Salesman has something to do with the rest of this story, but aside from them both having a woman (in this film's story, off-screen) who has male 'customers', I still don't know yet. While The Salesman didn't hit the same emotional peak that A Separation did, this was drawn out in a gut-wrenching sort of way like that film does, where things are so realistic and yet at the same time there's always harsh and sorrowful pathos going on that we can be hooked into the furthering plight of these characters. It's in a way a crime film too, only it's a personal one.

    Farhadi's storytelling is close to a blend at its most pure of a kind of neo-realism and a film-noir, to draw out the old-time film comparisons; it's about seemingly every-day people who try to lead and good and productive lives (the main couple here are actors and the man is also a schoolteacher, while the other characters that come in the second half of the story are working class as well), and one terrible damn incident brings the world crashing down.

    As in A Separation the performances are particularly strong, but what I've noticed in these two films is how much Farhadi pays attention to the emotional lives of his women; Hosseini gets his dramatic moments, but he is mostly reacting to things, and tries to be tough and a MAN about things, while Alidoosti's Rana has to internalize this experience, and she is the one who really goes through a full, devastating arc through the film where, by near the end, she's become more of the grown-up and trying to see some reason and let sleeping dogs lie and such, though she's still scarred as well.

    Perhaps, in thinking it now, the Salesman story is significant as well in that that story is about a man and woman being torn apart by the man being so stuck in his ways, unable to see any other way to go about how to live his life. Hosseini's character wants to do what's right (for a few reasons the cops cant be called after this attack on his love happens as the critical turning point), but his idea for revenge or payback is spurred further by his anger and frustration. Or, to put it more simply: what happens when a family is torn apart by the truth - this, by the way, becomes what may or may not end up being the climax of this film.

    This is a heavy film, but rewarding because the actors are living so strongly in these moments, and we can empathize with them as well (which is the provocative part, as if Farhadi may be challenging us or himself or both to wonder) as a key character in the third act of the story, where it reaches its resolution - not to mention back where the story began, in an apartment that is unihabitable due to a man-made destruction - and because Farhadi is so vigorous in making practically every scene count. It's a painfully human tragedy (with maybe one or two minor laughs, almost like brief respites) that is able to be interesting, occasionally extremely and uncomfortably thrilling, and naturalistic at the same time, which is difficult to pull off. I may not rush to see The Salesman again, but I'm glad Farhadi continues to make films, and I'm more hopeful it'll win at the Oscars precisely because it is *not* political (except, of course, for how intensely it *is* a feminist story, simply in the sense that it's an Iranian film that feels deep compassion for its female co-protagonist).
  • cdcrb23 March 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    because of construction next door, a couple is forced to find another apartment. the new apartment gives off bad vibes. the wife is attacked, or is she, and the husband spends the rest of the movie tracking down the culprit. best foreign picture Oscar. it's interesting to me that no one dislikes this film. almost all the reviews are raves. just saying. I liked toni erdman better. at least it had some wit and originality. peace.
  • The Iranian film Forushande was shown in the United States with the title The Salesman (2016). It was written and directed by Asghar Farhadi. The movie stars Taraneh Alidoosti as Rana Etessami, and Shahab Hosseini as her husband, Emad Etesami.

    Emad is a teacher, and he's also an actor who is co-starring, with his wife, in Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman. (That's why the title of the movie is The Salesman.) They appear to be a happy, loving couple until things start to go wrong. The movie opens with a potential disaster--their apartment building is collapsing. They're able to get out safely, but they need to find another apartment.

    A fellow cast member offers them an apartment, which he owns as a rental property. The problem is that the former tenant hasn't cleared her belongings out of the apartment, and, although she's never on screen, she is an ominous presence throughout the film.

    Things start to go wrong, and they ultimately spiral out of control. People have to make choices, and often they make the wrong choice. The film is superb--great direction, great acting, great cinematography. However, you won't leave the theater whistling a happy tune.

    We saw the film at the excellent Little Theatre in Rochester, NY. It's really an interpersonal drama, so it should work well on the small screen. The Salesman won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. I haven't seen all the other films that were nominated, but I think this film was the best foreign film I saw in 2016. Try to see it--it's truly a brilliant movie.
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