Metascore
95

Universal acclaim - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 41
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 41
  3. Negative: 0 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Feb 29, 2012
    100
    It's a mystery wrapped inside an enigmatic nation, flawlessly acted and difficult to predict. I'm always impressed when a movie informs about a foreign culture while it entertains, and this one is powerful art in that regard.
  2. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Feb 9, 2012
    100
    The story winds its way over the material, forcing the characters and the viewers to constantly reassess everything they have seen and heard.
  3. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Feb 2, 2012
    100
    The movie has such a profound and compassionate understanding of human behavior, family ties and the way ordinary people respond when they're forced into a moral quandary, I can't imagine anyone not being transfixed by it.
  4. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Feb 2, 2012
    100
    A great movie, a look inside a world so foreign that it might as well be another planet, yet so universal that its observations are painfully familiar to anyone, anywhere.
  5. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Jan 26, 2012
    100
    This is a trenchant emotional thriller that you watch in dread, awe, and amazing aggravation. It's entirely predicated upon the outcome of bad decisions - and it is not a comedy. The situation that unfolds approaches the absurdity of farce but denies the relief and release of humor. It's a tragic farce. No option or choice is to be envied.
  6. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jan 26, 2012
    100
    The film is a singular achievement, a piece of realist cinema with the pull of a suspense thriller.
  7. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Jan 26, 2012
    100
    The movie is hugely compelling on a moral and emotional level - I was completely hooked - yet it also revealed to me in numerous small and concrete ways what it's like to live in a contemporary theocracy.
  8. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jan 25, 2012
    100
    The actors, as sometimes happens, create those miracles that can endow a film with conviction. Moadi and Hatami, as husband and wife, succeed in convincing us their characters are acting from genuine motives.
  9. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Jan 19, 2012
    100
    Moaadi is the standout here, subtly evoking filial worry and fatherly pride in one scene, popping off with rage in another: He's believably decent, believably flawed. A Separation touches on religious strictures and the role of women in Iran, but it does so with a light hand and not a twitch of condemnation.
  10. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jan 4, 2012
    100
    Farhadi is no mere formalist. His film is a spiritual investigation into the rise of women and the descent of male privilege in Iran, and a look at the toll that has taken. In a movie of flawless acting, it is Moadi - terse, proud, angry, haunted - who shows us that rare thing: a soul in transition.
  11. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Jan 4, 2012
    100
    Asghar Farhadi's A Separation serves as a quiet reminder of how good it's possible for movies to be.
  12. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Jan 3, 2012
    100
    However ripe A Separation might seem for being adapted into a smart American film, Hollywood shouldn't bother. Farhadi's movie is just about perfect as it is.
  13. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Dec 30, 2011
    100
    Something close to a contemporary masterwork, and maybe the best foreign-language film of the year, right at the tail end.
  14. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 30, 2011
    100
    A Separation is not the work of a constrained artist. It's a great movie in which the full range of human interaction seems to play itself out before our eyes.
  15. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Dec 30, 2011
    100
    A film that captures the drama and suspense of real life as urgently as any picture released this year.
  16. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 29, 2011
    100
    A Separation is totally foreign and achingly familiar. It's a thrilling domestic drama that offers acute insights into human motivations and behavior as well as a compelling look at what goes on behind a particular curtain that almost never gets raised.
  17. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 29, 2011
    100
    The members of the cast represent ensemble, naturalistic acting at its finest.
  18. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Dec 29, 2011
    100
    Sophisticated and universal yet deeply intimate, A Separation is an exquisitely conceived family drama that has the coiled power of a top-notch thriller.
  19. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Dec 29, 2011
    100
    Beyond the impeccable performances and direction, it's foremost an exceptional piece of screenwriting, so finely wrought that the drama seems guided by an invisible hand.
  20. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Dec 26, 2011
    100
    It's a frantic microcosm of life itself.
  21. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Dec 20, 2011
    100
    The drama it might remind you most of, oddly enough, is "Six Degrees of Separation," also about the snowballing connections between unlikely people. And as in that urban clash, the bedrock of it all is social responsibility, ever crumbling and rebuilding. A total triumph.
  22. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Feb 2, 2012
    91
    It happens to be splendidly acted and to be poised, as a narrative, on a knife's edge (the final shot, at a great moment of indecision, is utterly haunting). But, chiefly, it's a portrait of an essential and sympathetic human dilemma, and in that it's both real and timeless in ways that transcend borders, cultures and languages.
  23. 90
    What makes it so good is that no one is bad. These humans, desperate to do right, are caught up in a perfect storm of inhumanity. The evil is in the ecosystem.
  24. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Jan 4, 2012
    90
    As in all the director's work, the cast is given top consideration and their realistic acting results in unusual depth of characterization.
  25. Reviewed by: Alissa Simon
    Jan 4, 2012
    90
    Tense and narratively complex, formally dense and morally challenging.
  26. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Jan 3, 2012
    90
    The writer and director, Asghar Farhadi, has thus created the perfect antithesis of a crunching disaster flick, such as "2012," which was all boom and no ripple.
  27. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Mar 3, 2012
    88
    Every time it starts to feel like something we have known, we realize how unlike us these Iranian characters are.
  28. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Feb 17, 2012
    88
    Although it's slow to unfold, this courtroom drama is so timelessly humane and even-handed it feels like it came from the dockets of Solomon - by way of Sidney Lumet.
  29. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Jan 26, 2012
    88
    It's small. It's real. And it's deeply moving.
  30. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jan 25, 2012
    88
    It is a mystery and a courtroom drama. Above all, however, it is a tale of love and sacrifice.
  31. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Jan 19, 2012
    88
    Much like Robert Altman during his forays into the genre, writer/director Asghar Farhadi isn't really interested in the answers. Instead, he keeps expanding the questions, until that singular title comes to seem a misnomer.
  32. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Dec 29, 2011
    88
    A Separation is a landmark film. No way will you be able to get it out of your head.
  33. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Dec 27, 2011
    88
    Barriers both transparent and persistently present encase the characters of A Separation, constricting them in ways social, cultural, religious, familial, and emotional.
  34. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Dec 29, 2011
    85
    A Separation doesn't try to make easy sense of that world, or of this family's suffering. It's simply a quiet cry of anguish.
  35. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Mar 2, 2012
    80
    It's the little moments in Farhadi's film that are its most important, speaking every bit as loudly as its big, narrative-driving moments.
  36. Reviewed by: Wade Major
    Jan 31, 2012
    80
    Meticulously thoughtful and economical in its execution, from its camerawork to its editing, Farhadi's carefully wrought narrative and the ways it handles the fragile emotions of its characters truly sets it apart, not only from contemporary Iranian cinema but world cinema in general.
  37. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Jan 4, 2012
    80
    Powerful art cinema that challenges political and social unity in Iran.
  38. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 29, 2011
    80
    It is a rigorously honest movie about the difficulties of being honest, a film that tries to be truthful about the slipperiness of truth.
  39. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Dec 28, 2011
    80
    Together and apart, Hatami and Maadi are magnetic. Hatami, a star in Iranian cinema, lets us see Simin's intelligence and defiant sense of self-worth often with nothing more than a gesture.
  40. Reviewed by: J. Hoberman
    Dec 27, 2011
    80
    What's fascinating is how the various issues - religious or practical - are played out in these two quite different families, yet always come down to irreconcilable differences between rebellious women and their stiff-necked, controlling men.
  41. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Dec 30, 2011
    75
    In the compelling but slow-moving Iranian film A Separation, a downbeat family drama of no particular distinction gradually turns into a mystery that raises painful moral questions. There may be several guilty parties.
User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 345 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 65 out of 71
  2. Negative: 3 out of 71
  1. Dec 31, 2011
    10
    This is the film of the year. Its concerns are universal. The drifting apart of a married couple and their daughter, as tensions build up and small lies spin out of control. Everyone has good reasons for what they do and their own truth which looks like lies and distortions to others. This does not add up to a harmonious life. That it all this place in contemporary Iran with its strictures and deprivations only adds to the drama as social classes and degrees of religious observance collide and clash. The characters are flawlessly acted and their imperfections completely authentic. The camera work is brilliant with frequent closeups of actors who seem completely real. There is no preaching or taking sides, the film is humanistic in its sympathy for all the characters even when they transgress. This is movie-making at its best, reminiscent of the films that came from central and eastern Europe during the communist era and its immediate aftermath. Full Review »
  2. Dec 31, 2011
    10
    Have you ever been watching a movie where you could not take your eyes of the screen, not even for one second !! A Separation will show you that feeling, this film is just brilliant ! Full Review »
  3. Feb 27, 2012
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. A tragedy of errors with a very easy to see political analogy:

    The old father is Iran. A country with Alzheimer forgetting its own people. An incontinent regime pissing on its youth. The unborn child stands for a free democratic Iran, killed before birth. Where? On the same street where the green revolution, the embryonic state of democracy, was killed in 2011.
    Pregnant Razieh tries to rescue the old man/the country/her income for the sake of the future generation.

    The two couples stand for the majority in Iran.
    In spite of good intentions most of the time they lie, fight or escape the country.
    Too loyal or afraid to see the truth: Rashomon in Iran.
    Very ironic that the Iranian leaders praise the movie and don't see the obvious, like fish don't notice the sea or the five blind men can't recognize the elephant they feel. Only the children see the reality and offer some hope. The little girl plays with the oxygen levels.
    The choice of Termeh in the final scene is the choice the youth in Iran stands for:
    leave the country or stay and revolt, again.

    Shirin Yazdi
    Full Review »