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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Film review: Darbareye Elly (About Elly)


Asghar Farhadi / Iran

Farhadi submerges us into an Iranian weekend at the sea where Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani) lures Elly (Taraneh Alidousti), her daughter’s nursery teacher, to join her family and friends. Sepideh has matchmaking ideas for her freshly divorced brother, which has devastating results on this seemingly innocent weekend. One moment Elly is a free spirit flying a kite by the sea and the next she has vanished. At the press conference Farhadi described his film idea as “just look out at the sea and imagining losing someone.” This close-knit family slowly falls apart in this space that he has created around the characters. Much of this movie is told in the gaps rather then in the untold storyline, which lies deep within the Iranian culture’s invisible rules of moral conduct. The most decisive fact that influences this film is that they have invited someone they didn’t really know and with that invitation comes a certain responsibility. From the beginning, Elly’s character is uncomfortable; she knows she has broken one of these unspoken rules of responsibly and honor. This film was controversial in Iran and had received bad press from a gossip magazine.

It’s hard to believe that the yellow press had such influence over this film that it was not going to be allowed out of the country when there wasn’t even a kissing scene in it. The censorship commission has a strong hold over the film industry in Iran which makes people turn to the black market with their films. Despite all these obstacles that confronted the director and crew, they successfully brought their film here and plan next to go to the Tribecca film festival. They were determined not to let bad press interfere with their glory and were very reluctant to speak about the incident at the press conference. Farhadi won the Silver Bear for best director.

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