Iranian director's taut family saga rivets critics at Cannes

Fri May 17, 2013 10:04am EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

CANNES (Reuters) - Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi premiered his latest tightly wound family drama at Cannes on Friday, confirming critics' advance buzz it would prove a contender for the film festival's top prize.

The prestigious festival on the French Riviera - where the sun finally emerged on day three - is looking to spot its Palme d'Or winner among the 20 entries in the main competition and early reviews were enthusiastic for "Le Passe" ("The Past").

The intense psychological drama, shot in Paris in French, is Farhadi's first to be filmed outside his homeland, where Iranian censors have allowed the movie to be distributed.

"Le Passe" stars well-known Iranian actor Ali Mosaffa as an Iranian man who returns to Paris to finalize a divorce with his wife, Mariel, played by French actress Berenice Bejo ("The Artist").

Among the many warm reviews, The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw called the film: "A finely crafted, sinewy drama that anatomizes clotted and complex relationships."

Back in his former home, "Ahmad" (Mosaffa) is thrust into a complex drama involving Mariel and her new partner, whose wife is in a coma, and a resentful teenage daughter struggling to come to terms with her own guilt.

"There is nothing more universal than family. That is a bond between my spectators and myself," Farhadi told reporters.

"The relationship ... between a couple is perhaps the oldest relationship in the history of humanity. There is so much suffering and pain linked to a couple, yet this suffering and pain is always different, unique."   Continued...

Director Asghar Farhadi (C) poses with cast members Tahar Rahim (L) and Berenice Bejo during a photocall for the film 'Le Passe' (The Past) at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 17, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard