“The Salesman” Is A Bleak Iranian Allegory

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Beyond the best picture snafu Oscar night there was another upset – the Iranian film “The Salesman” winning best foreign language film over German language frontrunner “Toni Erdmann.”

UnknowniranIt was only the third Iranian film nominated for the Oscar, two of which were directed by Asghar Farhadi, who won Oscars  for “The Salesman and “A Separation”  political and social allegories in the disguise of domestic dramas.

If all you know about Iran is what you hear on the news you have a right to be afraid.

But it’s clear you havent seen their films.

Iran has a rich and progressive cinema history, created despite being made under scrutiny by a repressive government. In fact there are 37 rules Iranian filmmakers must follow, many of them regarding the portrayal of women.

“The Salesman” is not overtly political but does portray society as hard and unforgiving, which is how a husband becomes during the search for the man who attacked his wife in their new apartment.

The couple are actors in a production of “Death of a Salesman,” and the way their life unravels after the attack resembles Arthur Miller’s play. “The Salesman” is a genre film – crime story, psycho-drama and relationship film – about vengeance and forgiveness set against the backdrop of bleak urban life.

Farhadi did not attend the Oscars in protest if Pres. Trumps travel ban, but a surrogate made a speech for him protesting the ban as inhumane. By giving him the Oscar, Hollywood announced it felt the same.

Now playing at the Oriental Theater.

***1/2 stars

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