Director: Asghar Farhadi
Screenwriter: Asghar Farhadi
Director of Photography: Hossein Jafarian
Cast: Taraneh Alidoosti, Shahab Hosseini, Babak Karimi
Synopsis: While starring in an Iranian production of Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman,’ a teacher and his wife are forced to move into a new apartment where a violent tragedy unexpectedly awaits them.
The Salesman Review:
A film of stresses and strains charred under the spotlight of irreversible misfortune, “The Salesman” is a story tied to overwhelming hardship as filmmaker Asghar Farhadi meticulously checkpoints the progress of his movie through late night performances of classic Broadway tragedy ‘Death of a Salesman,’ causing the wires separating fiction and reality to overlap in sequences of powerful dramatic expression. Refusing to perform the Pulitzer-Prize-winning play in its entirety, Farhadi nestles Miller’s themes of denial, damage, and disorder into the fabric of his contemporary Middle Eastern drama as a crumbling home, an absent tenant, and a violent assault form the basis of an aggravated revenge plot that strains the relationship of a happy couple.
In a similar format to Farhadi’s previous work, “The Salesman” depicts a husband’s struggle to maintain control under difficult and newly emerging circumstances, showing the knock-on effect of his momentary absence through the cuts and bruises of his devoted wife whose faith in her protector comes at a severe price. The husband’s plight is attached to a number of spaces and circumstances, from his unruly classroom of students to the echoing confines of the theatre where he acts out his frustration in front of a live audience every night. Growing tired under the weight of evening chatter, the man seeks answers by playing detective, moving closer to finding the assailant while drifting apart from the violated woman begging for his love and care.
As theatrical tension trickles into the couple’s shared life, mimicking the distance growing between them on-stage, Farhadi tweaks Miller’s play to incorporate improvised outbursts as the worn-out text finds new meaning in a volatile world where women have grown tired of fearing the men who purport to protect them. Unable to convey the true weight of his screenplay yet still set on yielding vengeance, Farhadi rushes his final act with a conclusion that conveniently presents itself with a strained message about turning the other cheek. It’s a strange turn of events with little to add to the the original story as the film collapses into a new line of tragedy without providing even a moment of satisfaction within its scenes of bitter revenge.