The Writer/Director (Asghar Farhadi) won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film 2012 for “A Separation,” and “The Salesman” – nominated for Best Foreign Language Film 2016 – is of similar quality and may win it! It’s an emotionally-intense drama, raising some very interesting psychological questions.
Emad (Shahab Hosseini), a high school literature teacher, is married to Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti). They are amateur actors about to play Willy and Linda Loman in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” in a Tehran theater. Just before the play is set to open, their apartment starts collapsing, and they need to evacuate immediately. Fortunately, one of the other performers knows about a recently vacated apartment, so the couple move in there.
Unbeknownst to them, however, the prior tenant was a prostitute. The next day, Rana is taking a shower when the apartment buzzer sounds. She gets out of the shower, and – assuming it is Amad returning home – she buzzes him in, and then returns to the shower. On the contrary, it turns out that the entering man is a client of the former tenant! Assuming that the prostitute is in the shower, he enters the shower and then all hell breaks loose! The man flees the scene and, due to broken glass in the scuffle, Rana has a facial laceration and the man has cut feet. The neighbors hear the commotion, find Rana injured, and then Rana is taken by ambulance to the hospital. Amad learns about the situation and soon joins Rana at the hospital. Amad wants to call the police, but Rana just wants to move on and not go through the pain and humiliation of having to re-live the situation again.
Rana is trying to cope as best she can and is making some – although painfully slow – progress, but Amad becomes obsessed with finding the man, creating an intense conflict between them. It appears that Amad’s shame and humiliation about what happened to Rana is somehow even more intense than hers!
I can’t say any more about the movie without spoiling it, but the last half-hour is fantastic. The acting by the two leads is AAW and there is also another great performance to watch for!