The Salesman

An interesting movie that was “okay” at best. If you want to spend an evening getting incredibly bored, then go see The Salesman and Moonlight back-to-back.

The SalesmanUnfortunately, The Salesman joins Moonlight as an undeserving Oscar winner. Though it won several awards at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, including best screenplay, it was not the best nominated foreign film. Like Moonlight, it loses its momentum the longer it lasts, and the Oscar should have gone to A Man Called Ove.

Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, who previously won an Oscar for A Separation (2011), the film centers on a married couple who are starring in an Iranian production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”. When they are forced to move from their apartment because of major problems with the building infrastructure, the play’s director (Babak Krimi) gives them a place to stay at a recently vacated apartment that he owns.

Trouble ensues when the wife referred to above, Rana Etesami (Taraneh Alidoosti), is taken to the hospital with head injuries after being attacked in her shower while alone at home. When she refuses to go to the police, her husband, Emad (a very good performance from Shahab Hosseini), becomes fixated on finding the attacker.

Questions are raised throughout the film, and it becomes somewhat confusing. For example, why would the assailant have intentionally left a wad of money behind, not to mention car keys and his motor vehicle? What was his reason for being there?

As both Emad and Rana become increasing traumatized, it affects their ability to perform in the play. Is there something behind the attack that is being kept secret by everyone?

That question lies at the heart of the entire film. For example, who was the previous tenant of the apartment that our married couple moved into, and why did that woman leave a large amount of her possessions in a locked room? And why did she refuse to retrieve any of these objects? What was her lifestyle, and did that lead to an encounter that looked like a vicious attempted rape?

While these questions start to receive answers, I was left largely unimpressed. Since I was one of the great fans of A Man Called Ove, I really wanted this film to earn the Academy Award. It didn’t, and I can’t help but conclude that The Salesman’s Oscar, like with Moonlight, was dictated by the wide support from prominent critics and not the public at large.

Additionally, it certainly didn’t hurt that Director Farhadi is an Iranian who refused to attend the Oscars because of the embarrassing immigration policies of our President. While I applaud Farhadi’s stand, I do not applaud his film.