Saturday, 19 October 2013

REVIEW - THE PAST


We strain every day to live our lives in the present. We yearn to be free of the grip of the past. But we are naive and vulnerable, and we yield to that grip when we seek comfort and assurance, security in the familiar. Asghar Farhadi's The Past is an impressively complex, perhaps even too complex study of the effects that our past has on our present, on our actions and our reactions. His perception of the daunting, often contradictory design of the emotional structure of the human mind is beyond reproach, and his comprehension of the nature in which the truth reveals itself, gradually, and frequently misrepresented or misunderstood, is without rival in mainstream cinema today. He has the confidence to explore the respective psyches of a collection of individual people, and to present their thoughts and ideas without external justification, accepting every aspect of each of these people no matter how unflattering, and allowing us to evaluate and accept each of them ourselves... initially. Because as Farhadi closes his narrative loop, defiantly unhurriedly, he begins to categorise his characters, rendering them good or bad, weak or strong, philanthropic or self-centred. Of particular concern is his glorification of his two, largely infallible, male lead roles, who both seem driven by reason and love and the will to make things right. Farhadi is so fixated by these characters that he doesn't bestow due attention on the other, more compelling figures - teenage Lucie is vilified rather than sought to be understood, and scenes with the younger children are simply so darn perfect that one wonders if The Past wouldn't be infinitely better if told from their perspective. From any perspective, though, Farhadi remains a supreme talent, and I'm a fan of his ingenious use of space - unlike many directors, he knows instinctively how people utilise their surroundings, and how their surroundings influence their activity. A minor detail, perhaps, with a major impact.