Fine acting make this one worth seeing
by Martin Hafer
Back in 2012, writer-director Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. This Iranian movie was exquisitely acted and director Farhadi must have been justifiably proud of his work. Not surprisingly, another one of Farhadi’s films has just been released to theaters in the States, titled About Elly, which, incidentally, the filmmaker actually made before A Separation, in 2009.
About Elly is set during a holiday in Iran, where a group of friends have decided on a brief trip together and are using it to try to set up their friend, Ahmad, with a pretty young lady named Elly. Most of these friends don’t know Elly, but Sepideh does and thinks she’ll be a good match for the guy. The first portion of the film seems pretty mundane with the usual banter you’d expect during a holiday getaway. However, things turn dark when one of the small children nearly drowns. The boy is saved but after the confusion dies down, everyone starts to wonder where Elly got to. Perhaps she jumped in the water to try to save the boy and drowned herself, or perhaps she just left. After all, she did insist on going home the following morning … the same morning when the boy almost died.
About Elly is an interesting character study as well as a cautionary tale about lies and half-truths. Once again, Farhadi did a wonderful job with the film and the actors really deserve kudos for their realistic performances. In particular, I noticed that the children really seemed scared when they should have been and the adults later begin to show definite signs of stress. It was hard to tell that they were actually acting, demonstrating great skill by helmer Farhadi and the actress playing Elly.
Despite my loving the acting and direction, I’ll admit that this is certainly not a film for everyone. Some folks don’t like films with subtitles, some will find the subject matter a bit too mundane and some might be a bit put off by the ending. I didn’t mind the first two minor concerns but I, too, thought the ending was perhaps a bit weak. Still, the film is a marvelous showcase for the folk involved, and deserves to be seen. Well worth your time if you can find it in your local theaters, which isn’t always easy with foreign language movies.