"The Past": A House Full of Drama

Asghar Farhadi's The Past is a domestic drama with equal emphasis on both of those words. The drama is frequently intense, and much of it is set in a single house that has too many people in it, at least from the characters' perspective. After four years away, Ahmed (Ali Mosaffa) returns to the house he once shared with his wife, Marie (Bernice Bejo), to finalize their divorce so she can marry her new boyfriend Samir (Tahar Rahim), who now lives there. Also present in the house are Ahmed and Marie's young daughter, Samir's troubled son from a woman who is now hospitalized and comatose after a suicide attempt, and lurking around the edges is Marie's also-troubled teenage daughter from a previous marriage. Things just get messier from there, old and new lives intersecting roughly, people trying to come to terms with each other's pasts as well as their own, with a recurring theme of very bad communication: Conversations frequently happen through glass, the conversants either unheard by us or each other, and much of the third act revolves around who did or did not read what e-mails, and who may have forwarded e-mails that they shouldn't have. It's occasionally tricky to keep track of, but that's how the past (and present) is.

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