Tuesday, January 28, 2014
It takes Iranian director and writer of the screenplay, 2 hours and 10 minutes to get to the end of this slow moving film and really doesn't have an ending. What happens to the characters in the film is left up to you to decide but you really don't care and by the time you leave the auditorium you have forgotten the film. The film is set in a suburb of Paris but you would never know as it doesn't feature anything in France except most of the language is in French.
The film is about relationships and there are many in this film starting with Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) arriving from Iran, his homeland, where he had returned 4 years before not returning, leaving his wife Marie (Berenice Bejo) who has asked him to come back to sign the divorce papers. She has a new lover, Samir (Tahar Rahim) whom she is pregnant by and who has a wife in a coma in the hospital after attempting suicide. Marie has two children Lucie (Pauline Burlet) and Lea (Jeanne Jestin) from her first husband who now lives in Brussels with his wife while Samir has a son Fouad (Elyes Aguis) who has found a friend in Lucie. The two girls have come to see Ahmand as a father figure and it is Lucie, the ever sullen teenager, who points out to him and says, “Isn’t it obvious? The reason she is with Samir is because he looks like you!”
Why does Marie insist that Ahmand stay with her and doesn’t book the hotel room he wanted? Why did Samir’s wife attempt suicide and will she come out of her coma? Samir owns a cleaners and has an illegal female worker Niama (Sabrina Ouazani) who was involved in a fight between his wife and a customer and the wife attempted the suicide in front of the worker. Marie has a sprained wrist which she blames the painting and refurbishing of her home and has nothing to do with the movie.
The cast, in spite of being hindered by the director/writer, is more than adequate with Elyes Aguis as the young boy outstanding. Berenice Bejo who starred in “The Artist” makes up for not talking in that film and is far from the happy dancing she played in that film. The men, Rahim and Mosaffa, are interesting to watch but, like all the characters in the film, neither their guilt, their relationships or why they do/did certain things are explained.
“The Past” is too long by at least 20 minutes and though a movie doesn’t have to provide answers it asks too many unanswerable, unnecessary questions.