Forushande (The Salesman)
15th October 2016 6.30pm at Curzon Chelsea
16th October 2016 5.15pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
Academy award winner Ashgar Farhadi’s Forushande (The Salesman) is an engrossing picture, a noteworthy fusion of family drama and thriller. With a Hitchcock-like plot, the Iranian director presents a tense and disturbing film built on a pattern where every small event unleashes unforeseen consequences.
In contemporary Iran, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and his wife Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) are two actors forced to find a new apartment after their building is evacuated for security reasons. A friend from their theatre company offers a vacant apartment he owns – omitting to give them a complete picture of the former inhabitant. The most tragic and puzzling happens: while Rana is alone, a man enters the flat and surprises her in the shower; Emad comes home to find a track of bloody footprints leading to their door.
As the main characters try to cope with the trauma, each in their own way, discovering the identity of the intruder becomes an obsession and eventually a temptation to take revenge. The tension is built with great skill: the facelessness of the attacker leaves quite unsettled, while clues tracing back to him are disseminated adroitly as the story moves along.
The tension unfortunately tends to wear off towards the end of the story, as facts become clearer and maybe more banal than expected. Sudden but fundamental turns of events, again winking at the master of suspense, determine the outcome of the couple’s choices.
Forushande also has a constant, although unclear, connection to theatre, as the characters regularly get up on stage to perform Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Referred to in the title, Miller’s piece seems to be an essential element of the film, but this parallel is left quite blurred. An interesting relationship between the plot and the stage can be however found in the sort of more symbolic or metaphorical allusion to the entering and exiting, the swift appearance and disappearance of theatre characters, that in the story trace a cumbersome but possible link.
Expectations were very high for Farhadi: unfortunately it is hard to satisfy an audience demanding consistency with excellent films. Oscar-winning The Separation will probably continue to shine brighter than this.
Forushande is released nationwide on 17th March 2017.
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