Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published March 30th 2013
Director Asghar Farhadi created history when his A Separation became the first Iranian film to win an Oscar for best foreign language film. This seems as good a reason as any for ACMI to show a retrospective of his work.
About Elly directly precedes A Separation in Farhadi's filmography, and it's definitely right up there as far as sophistication of storytelling goes.
Like much of Iranian cinema, the story is stripped back simplicity - to a point. A group of friends go to the seaside for a few days, with one of the wives having invited her child's teacher, Elly, with a view to matching her up with Ahmad, one of the friends in her group. Things look like they're going well until Elly vanishes. Her disappearance is the catalyst for secrets to emerge, causing rifts between various friends within the group.
While About Elly doesn't have the same political relevance as A Separation, it is still very much a story where people's actions have dire consequences, and the social mores of Iranian culture dictate that certain behaviour creates all sorts of dilemmas which set the film apart from western-set stories.
That the film has a naturalistic feel is a given. The close-knit group consist of lived-in characters with very believable dynamics.
If you're a fan of A Separation, or Iranian cinema in general, you won't be disappointed with About Elly.