Kamloops Film Festival in review: The Salesman

Each year, The Omega reviews the films presented at the Kamloops Film Festival. The festival came to a close on March 11.

Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman is this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and is his second win in the category preceded by A Separation, not to mention his awards at the Cannes Film Festival. There is no doubt his work has revolutionized new Iranian cinema.

The Salesman tells the story of Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), introduced as a middle-class couple forced to evacuate in the middle of the night when their Tehran apartment building appears to almost collapse due to the constant redevelopment of the city. Emad is a high school literature teacher who, along with Rana, star in a theatre production of Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.

Rana, home alone in their new apartment, hears the intercom and buzzes the door assuming it’s her husband, only to realize it’s an intruder. Emad, later on in the evening, finds Rana struck in the head whilst in the shower. The couple avoids telling the authorities, as Emad takes it personally and Rana is too embarrassed, simply wanting to forget the whole thing.

The film focuses on a serious moral dilemma, rather than revenge, for the remainder of the film. In all his efforts to punish the man who caused this pain on him, at the same time he faces emotional withdrawal from his wife. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman represents the status of the relationship between the couple. It is only at the very end when the parallels between Emad and Willy Loman become evident. They are both good people, but due to their choices, end up disappointing their loved ones.

Overall, the acting is stellar, the cinematography is moody and atmospheric, not to mention the symbolism is extremely effective. The film tends to feel a little downtempo at times, however, it does depict a real perspective of modern day Iran that remains true to Farhadi’s unique style.