A Separation



Intense but rewarding Iranian drama has complex characters.
  • Review Date: December 30, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 123 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A Separation illustrates how communication and telling the truth can solve a lot of problems, while lying and covering up can create more -- though it demonstrates this through a negative example rather than a positive one.

Positive role models

Most of the characters are willing to lie and cover up their knowledge to make things "easier" on themselves. Characters mostly communicate through arguing.


There's a minor scuffle as an enraged man tries to eject a woman from his home. Also discussion of a miscarriage. Many shouting matches and tense arguments.


A woman realizes she must clean an old man who has wet himself, even though it's against her religion to see the man naked. The old man is shown in his underwear.


Aside from angry, tense arguing, there's some swearing in the subtitles, including one use of "f--k," plus "a--hole," "bastard," and "hell."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Cigarettes can be seen in one scene, but there's no actual smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that A Separation is a powerful Iranian drama with mature themes, including marital troubles and miscarriage, plus lots of tense, angry arguing. There's some strong language (in English subtitles) and some adult situations. In one scene, a very religious woman must decide what to do when, while caring for an old man, she finds she needs to clean him, despite the fact that her religion doesn't allow her to see him naked. Though none of the content concerns are individually all that age inappropriate for younger teens, overall, watching A Separation is a pretty intense experience.

Kids say

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What's the story?

In an Iranian court of law, husband Nader (Peyman Moaadi) and wife Simin (Leila Hatami) confront each other. She wants to leave the country to find a better life for their 11-year-old daughter (Sarina Farhadi). He wants to stay, mainly to look after his aged, senile father. Too stubborn to agree, they separate. Nader must hire someone to look after the old man while he's at work; he finds Razieh (Sareh Bayat), whose husband, Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), is desperately in debt. Nader comes home one day to find his father on the floor and Razieh nowhere in sight. She turns up, making vague excuses. Enraged, he pushes her out. It comes out that she has now had a miscarriage. Thus begins a complicated mystery of who knew what, and when.

Is it any good?


At its core, A Separation is basically a standard potboiler -- it could have been ripped from the pages of a dime store novel. What counts is that talented writer/director Asghar Farhadi structures it in a culturally compelling and mysterious way, while balancing all the characters to avoid easily typed "good guys" and "bad guys." There are no winners or losers in this battle -- even Razieh's angry and frustrated husband comes across as wholly human.

Additionally, Farhadi carefully weaves timely social and spiritual issues into the film's fabric, such as Iran's complicated divorce system (as well as the complexities of marriage itself) and the limitations of religion: In one scene, Razieh must bathe the old man but feels she can't due to her beliefs. Most of all, Farhadi lets the audience decide. The opening scene is filmed from the judge's point of view, and the final scene leaves off just before a vital decision. (It's worth noting that all of this was done, miraculously, within Iran's strict censorship rules.)

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's arguments and intense situations. Do they fit with the movie's story? What purpose do they serve?

  • How do culture and religion play into the decisions the characters make? Does the movie portray their influence in an expected way?

  • According to this movie, what are some of the differences between Iran and America? What are some similarities? Do you agree?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 30, 2011
DVD release date:August 21, 2012
Cast:Leila Hatami, Peyman Maadi, Sareh Bayat
Director:Asghar Farhadi
Studio:Sony Pictures Classics
Run time:123 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:mature thematic material
Awards/Honors:Golden Globe

This review of A Separation was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byBrother2 February 5, 2012

Interesting family discussion afterwards!

I agree with some of the other views but it gives families a chance to see what happens or could happen in other cultures, let alone in a family in another country.
What other families should know
Great messages


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