This Oscar-Nominated Foreign Language Film from Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi is a powder keg of tension that builds to an explosive finale as a married couple deal with the aftermath of an assault in their home.
Emad (Shahab Hosseini) And Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), who, as well as performing together as Willy and Linda Loman in a local production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, are a young married couple in need of accommodation following an emergency evacuation from their apartment in the middle of the night.
A fellow cast member offers to rent them a small flat and despite some reservations, primarily to do with the fact that the former tenant has moved on leaving all her possessions behind, they move in.
Unbeknownst to the pair, the previous occupant had a reputation for entertaining strangers, and the illicit renown of the address leads to a horrendous incident while Rana is in the shower.
Thinking it is Emad buzzing the intercom from the gate downstairs she unlocks it and opens their apartment door so he can get in before returning to the bathroom.
When Emad does return from a trip to the shops, he notices blood on the stairway and makes a gruesome discovery inside their new flat. His wife is hospitalised and when she returns home, will not be left alone.
Emad, a schoolteacher by day and performer by night, finds a set of keys and a phone left behind by the intruder and he connects the keys with an old ute parked nearby. As the couple try to come to terms with the incident in their own ways, Emad becomes fixated on finding the perpetrator.
One of the fascinating things about the film is that sexual assault is never mentioned, but implicit in details like the neighbours are gossiping openly about what may or may not have happened on the night in question, and the fact that Rana refuses to address what has happened and will not go to the police. Emad meanwhile confronts his castmate who rented them the apartment demanding answers.
I cannot even begin to imagine the harrowing aftermath of a stranger entering one’s home and assaulting a partner while they are in the bathroom. Revenge would certainly seem to be a natural desire, and I found it interesting given my lifelong diet of Hollywood films tlat I half-expected Emad to find a firearm, track down the culprit and blow them away.
But The Salesman is no Taken.
Rather it is an intensely dramatic tale featuring stunning performances (with lead actor Shahab Hosseini, Emad, winning Best Actor and the Canes Film Festival) and a brilliant script (also winning at Cannes for writer/director Farhadi) that successfully intertwine events and examine each characters actions to reach a stunning conclusion.
Not for the faint hearted, The Salesman is a cracker of a dramatic thriller. With little to no score to speak of, it draws you into a gripping world of boundaries, temptations and reprisals that bring you to the edge of your seat.
I am aiming to check out a few more films in this Oscar category to check back soon.
4 Stars – A Searing Dramatic Thriller.