The Salesman movie poster
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The Salesman
The Salesman movie poster

The Salesman Movie Review

Available on Blu-ray and DVD on May 2, 2017 (Buy on Amazon)

Asghar Farhadi is the kind of writer that likes to build a story around an isolated incident and explore the ramifications such an incident has on the affected individuals. More importantly, Farhadi is good at it: his 2011 drama A Separation won Best Foreign Language Picture at the Academy Awards. Farhadi is back with another character study of similar magnitude--the Oscar-nominated The Salesman (Forushande)--another well made, interesting and engaging drama that is only limited by the inconsequential aspects of the story Farhadi has decided to tell.

Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti turn in terrific performances as a husband and wife and acting pair who, while in the midst of performing a run of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, find their relationship strained when the wife is attacked in her home by an unknown perpetrator.

The attack is momentary and, in the scheme of things, not physically serious, but the psychological effects are what Farhadi is interested in. He relishes in the opportunity to explore how the incident affects not only the victim, but her husband, their coworkers and neighbors--and even the attacker. Farhadi is masterful in his investigation, presenting a very grounded and realistic portrayal of what could happen in such a situation.

As well written as The Salesman is, Hosseini and Alidoosti do a superb job of bringing the words--and more importantly, the things left unsaid--to life. The two have amazing chemistry with one another and disappear into their roles.

Nonetheless, The Salesman, like A Separation, is not entirely my cup of tea: as well made as it is, there just isn’t quite enough meat to sustain its two-hour runtime. While never bored, I found my attention waning in parts. The nuanced ramifications of the attack become clear from the onset, and Farhadi doesn’t do enough to propel or evolve the story beyond the obvious for the remainder of the film.

If you found A Separation fantastic, you’ll likely discover The Salesman to be in the same vein. If not, the movie is still another strong entry from Farhadi--even if it isn’t quite as riveting as he clearly thinks it is.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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