The Past (‘Le Passé’)

DRAMA; 2hr 5min (French and Persian with subtitles)

STARRING: Bérénice Bejo, Ali Mosaffa, Tahar Rahim

Trapped lovers: Rahim and Bejo

Ahmad (Mosaffa) and Marie (The Artist ’s Bejo) have a history that bleeds into their present. She is a Frenchwoman living in Paris with her lover, Salim (Rahim), his resentful little boy (Elyes Aguis) and her two daughters from another man, the elder of whom, 16-year-old Lucie (Pauline Burlet), is a reproachful headache. Ahmad, who left Paris four years ago to return to Tehran, is back at Marie’s request to wrap up their divorce. She and Samir are planning to marry, presumably when his suicidal, comatose wife either recovers or dies. But each one of them has a past that proves impossible to shake.


From these fractured family bones, writer-director Asghar Farhadi and his impassioned, impeccable ensemble cast construct a thickly layered framework in which motivations are ambiguous, accusations sting like hailstones, silences are weighted with ominous meaning and the very atmosphere vibrates with dread. Farhadi (A Separation) has no interest in the easy way out: for him, damage done is irreversible. Every door he opens leads deeper inward and down.