The price of doing good

By AMY MULLINS | HK EDITION | Updated: 2022-05-20 14:39
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A Hero, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi. Starring Amir Jadidi, Mohsen Tanabandeh and Sahar Goldoost. Iran/France, 127 minutes, IIA. Opened on May 19, 2022 in Hong Kong. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Until recently, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi was best known for his uncanny ability to deconstruct modern Iran - and in many ways, other parts of the world - and provide clear, concise critiques of the social contracts we all live with. It's been said before that the more closely a filmmaker hews to their unique experiences, the more universally recognizable those experiences become. Since his masterful 2009 breakout, About Elly, Farhadi has been shining a glaring light on the class, religious and gender dynamics that rule in Iran and very often within families, peaking (so far) with 2011's A Separation. That film was a nuanced drama about a middle-class professional couple going through a divorce, and it stripped away the "otherness" of Iran, another Farhadi specialty. His capacity for empathy and his eye for social detail are what have made him a consistent festival favorite: he's won the Grand Prix and the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes, two Academy Awards, as well as the Berlin Golden Bear and the Silver Bear for Best Director, among scads of other accolades.

These days, however, he's also known for having been indicted in an Iranian court for plagiarism, following allegations by a former student that Farhadi stole the idea for A Hero from her own documentary. The case is still before the courts, with lawsuits and countersuits ongoing. It's a shame really, because no matter who's in the right, there's no doubt that Farhadi has crafted another almost-perfect film, an astute and delicately provocative portrait of Iranian class friction and morality in the age of social media.

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