The Past title image
, , , , ,
130 min.
Release Date
The Past poster

In a familiar technique by Asghar Farhadi, the opening shots of The Past use loaded symbolism to establish the film’s thematic framework. Marie (Bérénice Bejo) picks up her husband Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) at the airport after a four-year absence. He has returned from Tehran to Paris to finalize their divorce. When they first spot each other, they appear separated by soundproof glass, a clear symbol for the walls of communication between them. Then they run to the car in the rain, and she asks if there’s enough room to back out. Ahmad says there is, just before shouting, “Stop! What are you doing?” Marie immediately hits the breaks, just in time to avoid an accident. The scene might warn not to go through life backward, thinking about old relationships and why they failed. That’s certainly one philosophy shared with Ahmad—a friend advises him to cut ties with Marie completely. Unfortunately, the advice proves easier offered than followed, given the complexity of the relationships and human emotions on display. Even so, why did Ahmad give Marie the all-clear at first? Should Marie be at fault for trusting Ahmad to be her eyes, or should she have turned around and checked herself? Farhadi doesn’t show us the circumstances of the near-accident in total, but he reveals how this soon-to-be-divorced couple communicates.

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