Have you gotten around to watching the 2012 Oscar winner For Best Foreign Film yet? I hadn't till last night, even though I've had the envelope from Netflix for weeks. I think that in the kind of "fog of war" talk that we live in around the subject of Iran, this small but beautifully done movie works as a kind of antidote and reminder of the humanity of people we often think of as on the other side of a line.
A husband and wife have what seem to be irreconcilable differences as the movie opens, she wanting to take an opportunity to go to America, he feeling unable to leave his mentally deteriorating father behind. Caught in the middle of this struggle is their pre-adolescent daughter, who decides to align herself with her father and remain at home for the time being. An arrangement is made through the wife's friend to have a young mother come and look after the father during the day. She brings her own small daughter, but elects to leave her husband largely in the dark about this arrangement. That is essentially the setup.
This is a wonderful bit of ensemble acting, with even the nearly mute father and the four year old child holding up their ends of the story. There is a dimension to the story that is universal--how do husbands and wives handle differing wishes and differing obligations, how do people of differing economics and class backgrounds interact when difficulities arise, and so on. But there is also a very unique Iranian story being told, with Iranian law and Muslim faith being central aspects of the story. There is an unfolding crisis but no villains. What it reminds me of a little, actually, is the American novel House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III. Although if anything, the characters in the novel have far more freedom of choice in how things unfold than these characters do.
Check it out. My copy is going back to Netflix tomorrow.