The Salesman

Poster for The Salesman

With their Tehran apartment block on the brink of collapse, Emad (Shahab Hosseini, A Separation) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) are obliged to move into a shabby nearby flat. Soon, an unfriendly visitor comes calling and there is an eruption of violence. Before we can get our bearings, Academy Award-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Past) has us unnerved and locked in an elegantly rendered realm of simmering domestic tension.

Following The Salesman’s initial traumatic events, things turn strange and tense between husband and wife. Feeling vengeful and confused, Emad plays detective, while rattled Rana gives him mysteriously mixed signals. Meanwhile, the two are performing as Willy and Linda Loman in an amateur production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and their onstage roles begin to resonate with their fractured lives in beguiling ways.

Farhadi ‘s subtle control of camera placement and rhythm and his special gift for drawing nuanced performances from his actors are key elements of his directorial signature. But so much of his singular talent can be found in the structuring of his scripts, which draw us in, turn the screws and leave us breathless.

He rose to international prominence after A Separation became the first Iranian film to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film; with The Salesman he managed to repeat the honour this year.

“Farhadi remains a master of pace and tension, slowly upping the stakes in an unsettling narrative fuelled by a lingering sense of powerlessness, paranoia and the possibility that you never entirely know the person you love.” (Allan Hunter, Screen International)

“By the film’s shattering end, you’ll feel the spirit of Arthur Miller, one of the great dramatists of the 20th century, reaching across the transom to touch one of the great dramatists of the 21st.” (Joe McGovern, Entertainment Weekly)

“With exquisite patience and attention to detail, Asghar Farhadi, the writer and director, builds a solid and suspenseful plot out of ordinary incidents, and packs it with rich and resonant ideas.” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times)