About Elly (2009)
Familiarity abounds in the initial set up for ABOUT ELLY. A group of friends going off for the weekend to a rural get away, an outsider brought along with the hopes of matchmaking, scenarios you've seen before. The universality of it is all very purposeful though. Director Asghar Farhadi excels at disarming you with domesticity before unraveling the milieu among friends and family when the unexpected happens.The shepard of the group is Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani) as she organizes her husband and two other couples to come out to the Caspian Sea, as well as bringing along her child's kindergarten teacher Elly (Taraneh Alidootsi) to meet her recently divorced friend from Germany Ahmad (Shahab Hosseini). Elly stays at a slight distance from most of the group, but everyone gets along well until an accident at sea and a disappearance fractures friendships and sows distrust.Filmed in 2009 before his Oscar winning film A SEPARATION but delayed until 2015, Farhadi's ABOUT ELLY has all the hallmarks of his 2011 masterpiece. He forgoes dumping exposition at you in the beginning and favors leaving scraps of information and plot along the way until you are clamoring to know how it will end. Masterfully letting the restrictions and societal norms of Iran seep into the edges of the film without smothering you in it, Farhadi creates a space where women and men struggle against expectations and limitations. The choices available, to women especially, force difficult decisions to be made and the film confronts them without blinking. A brilliant film that will make you talk about it, long after it is done.