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Laramie Movie Scope:
About Elly

An Iranian woman's disappearance, and reputation

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2015; Darbareye Elly, 2009, Persian and German) For a weekend getaway from Tehran, Sepideh (Golshiteh Farahani) invites her daughter's kindergarten teacher Elly (Taraneh Alidoosti) to join along with two other middle-class families and Ahmad (Shahab Hosseini), a friend from Germany, sharing a villa in the woods. The original plan goes awry when the villa isn't available for three full days as expected; instead, they accept (by vote) a large but drafty residence on the seaside in need of cleaning up.

In order to call her mother from her cellphone, Elly has to go off from the others to find where she can get signal reception; she instructs her mother, who has had a recent heart operation, not to tell anyone she's gone away for the night but will return the following day. Taking a drive with Ahmad to get acquainted, knowing of his divorce from a German wife, Elly asks what caused the breakup. He says that at breakfast one day, his wife informed him in German: "A bitter ending is better than an endless bitterness." Elly acknowledges: "That's true."

Directed and written by Asghar Farhadi from a story he and Azad Jafarian conceived, the relationships among the couples become better defined as the drama turns more mysterious. An older woman, who brings bedding for the "newlyweds", warns the visitors to lock everything at night for this place isn't safe.

Sepideh asks each of her friends for an appraisal - pleasant but shy - of the young guest. They play charades at night. In the morning Elly reminds Sepideh that she must get back to her mother in Tehran; Sepideh insists on her staying. Asked by Shohreh (Merila Zare'i) to watch after her young son Arash playing in the surf, Elly forgets when Sepideh's daughter Morvarid asks her to help with flying a kite.

In a panic, Morvarid comes crying to her father Amir (Mani Haghighi) and Arash's father Peyman (Peyman) playing volleyball with Ahmad and Manoochehr (Ahmad Mehranfar) that Arash has been tugged out to sea. In desperation, the men rush into the water, eventually rescuing Arash. Nazy (Ra'na Azadivar) then realizes: "Elly was with them."

The young teacher, nowhere to be found, may also have gone into the waves to save Arash. Sepideh is beside herself with fright and guilt. When the authorities arrive, no one, including Sepideh, knows much about Elly, not even her full name.

At first Elly's bag seems to be missing, suggesting she left without telling anyone; but then Sepideh removes it from where she hid it. No corpse washes up on the shore. Arguments and recriminations spread through the group of friends: Did anyone offend Elly or might she have acted on a whim?

Ahmad and Manoochehr call Elly's mother only to hear a suspicious voice denying Elly has left Tehran. Already upset with his wife for inviting a woman she apparently knew too little about, Amir turns violent on Sepidah when Elly's cellphone is discovered in her bag, accusing her of lying.

Using Elly's cellphone, Ahmad contacts Alireza (Saber Abbar), believing he's Elly's brother, only to learn that Alireza is Elly's fiancÚ: "What have you done?" Before Alireza arrives, the group discuss, and then vote on, whether to hold to a story they've invented or admit the truth, which would dishonor Elly.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)