December 29, 2016 -- This psychological drama about an Iranian man and his wife under emotional stress while staging a production of “Death of a Salesman” wanders into some unexpected twists and turns.
Set against the backdrop of the religious extremism of the Iranian government which is only hinted at in the movie, this is a story about people whose faith in each other is shaken by powerful events outside their control. This is exemplified by the film's opening scene when Emad Etesami (Shahab Hosseini of “A Separation”) and his actress wife, Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti of “About Elly”) are forced to flee their apartment when the building they are living in suddenly begins to fracture and fall apart.
Both Emad, a college professor, and Rana are starring in a stage production at the time and a fellow actor offers to set them up in a recently vacated apartment. Rana, who is about to take a shower, opens the door when the buzzer sounds, thinking her husband is arriving, but a stranger enters and attacks her in the shower, injuring her badly.
This vicious attack sets off a string of corrosive psychological reactions in both Rana and Emad. Rana is afraid to be alone in the apartment and wants to move away. She also denies the attack to avoid talking to the police. Emad wants to find out who attacked his wife and punish him. The police are never involved in this investigation, apparently for reasons involved in the Iranian culture and legal system.
While Rana tries to deal with her fear, Emad turns away from her and instead becomes obsessed with his investigation of the crime and his need for revenge. He tracks down the truck used by the intruder and then the owner of the truck, who left his keys in the apartment on the night of the attack. Rana becomes more concerned about her husband's obsession, especially when he discovers the identity of her attacker and confronts him in a cool rage. Their marriage is shaken to its very foundation.
Eventually, Rana and Emad return to act in the Arthur Miller play. There is enhanced emotional significance in the play when Rana (as Linda Lohman) stands over the coffin of Willy Lohman (played by Emad) and says “Willy, dear, I can't cry. Why did you do it? I search and search and I search, and I can't understand it, Willy. I made the last payment on the house today. Today, dear. And there'll be nobody home.” This film rates a B+.
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