Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 41 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 55 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Starring: , , , ,
  • Summary: Following a four year separation, Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) returns to Paris from Tehran, when his estranged French wife, Marie (Bérénice Bejo), asks him to finalize their divorce procedure so she can marry her new boyfriend Samir (Tahar Rahim). During his tense brief stay, Ahmad discovers the conflicting nature of Marie's relationship with her teenage daughter Lucie (Pauline Burlet). Ahmad's efforts to improve this relationship soon unveil a secret from their past. [Sony Pictures Classics] Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 41
  2. Negative: 0 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Feb 19, 2014
    100
    With The Past, Farhadi again displays a gift for poking into corners of nondescript lives and discovering unique drama.
  2. Reviewed by: Godfrey Cheshire
    Dec 20, 2013
    100
    Another brilliantly mounted drama concerning fracturing families, hidden motives and the difficulties of attaining stability in a rapidly changing world.
  3. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jan 30, 2014
    91
    The film's final scene, which manages to recontextualize everything we've seen so far with a brilliant simplicity that, if further proof were needed, establishes Farhadi as one of the best storytellers in cinema today.
  4. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Dec 20, 2013
    88
    If The Past doesn’t equal the masterpiece that preceded it, it’s still an exceptional film from a man who is clearly one of the best working directors.
  5. Reviewed by: Phil de Semlyen
    Mar 17, 2014
    80
    A bold, honest film about family life that showcases a terrifically unpeppy turn from Bejo.
  6. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Dec 18, 2013
    80
    It’s almost impossible to describe the narrative specifics of The Past without making the movie seem ridiculously hammy. Indeed, several twists involving Samir, a dry cleaner with plenty of his own troubles, tip a bit into hoary melodramatics.
  7. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    May 26, 2013
    40
    It’s intricate and often mature as drama, but it’s also meandering and at times heavy-handed, even melodramatic, and the tight control of time, place and action which made ‘A Separation’ so gripping is just not there.

See all 41 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Feb 13, 2014
    10
    In 2011, I was introduced to Asghar Farhadi’s superb film A Separation and his unique “everything that can go wrong, will go wrong” storytelling style. The film was a daunting, exhausting, and at-times experimental test on it’s audience that pushed the boundaries of the degree to which people can watch the lives of others quickly spiral down and out of control, in a relatable everyday setting. With his newest film The Past, Farhadi sculpts a meticulous piece of cinema that reinvents the cliched English phrase, “the past comes back to haunt you”, and instead renegotiates it’s conventions to tell a story that shows how sometimes the past can instead come back to save you.

    The film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 and played on the first night of screenings (although it was not the opening night film), was a big test to the skills and techniques of Farhadi’s uncompromising vision and narrative style. His Oscar winning film A Separation was regarded as one of the best films of that year, and in addition to winning the coveted Foreign Language Film top honour, Farhadi was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay, a feat that not many foreign language films reach, let alone their writer/director. Yet, Farhadi outdid himself once again with The Past; delivering a film that not only deepens the complexity of his characters and the moral dilemmas they face, but also pushes the conflicts of parents being accountable to their children, showing the selfishness of grown men and women and the daft choices they make, all in the name of love.

    To say that The Past is one of the most powerful, adult-driven dramatic narratives of the year, would be an understatement. Master auteur extraordinaire Farhadi delivers a film that tests the parameters of love, without ever giving us a clear-cut or wholly defined antagonist. His characters are people like you and me, dealing with life in the only ways we know how. Instead, the biggest villain in Farhadi’s film is life itself, with it’s unpredictable and sometimes diabolical sense of humour.

    This heavy-handed story of people caught in a twisted plot of love, adultery and confusion begins with Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa), a simple Iranian man who after four years of separation, travels to France to finalize his divorce with Marie (Bérénice Bejo). Marie has requested Ahmad’s return so that once their marriage is terminated, she will be able to marry Samir (Tahar Rahim), the owner of a laundromat and the new man in her life. Ahmad stays at Marie’s house along with her two daughters from a previous marriage, Lucie (Pauline Burlet) and Léa (Jeanne Jestin) as well as Samir’s son from his first wife, Fouad (Elyes Aguis), on the condition that while he is there, Samir stay somewhere else. Awkwardly forced to sleep in the same room as Samir’s son, Ahmad is able to make the best out of an uncomfortable situation, a trait we quickly learn defines Ahmad throughout the rest of the film. What develops then is a convoluted and highly delicate film with people who are just trying to make the best out of the situations they find themselves in.

    One of the beauties of a Farhadi film is its ability to show the true nature of people put in awkward and cynical situations. His men are furious, egotistical and macho in ways that allow other men to understand their own blow-ups and justify why their tempers flare. His women are strong and confident, using love as a muse to defy the limitations society has put on them. In action and in silence, his characters manoeuvre the unsteady terrain of life and the loud constraints of relationships. Throughout so many instances within the film, his characters find themselves lost for words and in a void that demands only silence. Yet within those subtle and incandescent moments of silence, the emotions of his characters are able to reach high decibels of intensity and range.

    One of the biggest differences between The Past and A Separation is Farhadi’s stunning ability to incorporate the perspectives and insights of the children involved in these complex relationships. Often times hysterical and warranting laughter, the film allows you time to step back and question the comedy in tragedy. At times, The Past plays out like a serious episode of Kids Say The Darnedest Things, through their perspectives, a perspective that oozes with innocence (as only a child has) is the very fabric that allows it’s audience to question the choices the characters make and the consequences they may have. The children in the film are deliberate aspirations of what the adults strive to be, even while they spew impulsive child-like behaviour that raises eyebrows constantly. Farhadi taps into this commonly misunderstood void of how the hasty actions of their parents affect the attitude and behaviour of their children, more often than not, resulting in unwanted character traits fueled by violence, anger and a desire to stand one’s ground.
    Expand
  2. Feb 17, 2014
    10
    Caught "The past" Asghar Farhadi's latest work last night in Isfahan" Farhadi's hometown" I gave ten star to the past like A separation but i confess that i like A separation more than this movie. The film was a masterpiece of Asghar Farhadi just like other film from this director. I hadn't been swept off my feet for a while, and The final sequence of the film had me amazing where name of Bérénice Bejo And Ali Mosaffa was appear in Céline and Samir hands masterfully. I will be shocked if this movie doesn't win an academy award and I hope heard the name Of Iran and Asghar Farhadi when the pocket will be open in this ceremony. This film start little late but when Ahmad and Lucie meet together for second time Farhadi enters first shock to the viewer. From this moments we can see specific signature of Farhadi's drama in this movie. Farhadi never talk about his movies explicitly but I guess purpose of The Past sending an alarm to the selfish man who's always run from his past or in other words its past decisions. This past decisions is impact in our life and the others that we like them to much and Farhadi says "Be careful of Bad effect" maybe for this Marie never let to Ahmad to explain the reason for departure because She believe That decisions is the starting point for adventures that occurred four years later.Similarly, we can determine to the relationship between Marie and Samir or decision of Lucie or Naïma's decision and Or even the Céline's decision. Expand
  3. Dec 20, 2013
    10
    Past Or future
    Past Or future by Hossein Aghaee.
    *** This review may contain spoilers ***
    Caught "The past" Asghar Farhadi's latest work
    last night in Isfahan" Farhadi's hometown" I gave ten star to the past like A separation but i confess that i like A separation more than this movie. The film was a masterpiece of Asghar Farhadi just like other film from this director. I hadn't been swept off my feet for a while, and The final sequence of the film had me amazing where name of Bérénice Bejo And Ali Mosaffa was appear in Céline and Samir hands masterfully. I will be shocked if this movie doesn't win an academy award and I hope heard the name Of Iran and Asghar Farhadi when the pocket will be open in this ceremony. This film start little late but when Ahmad and Lucie meet together for second time Farhadi enters first shock to the viewer. From this moments we can see specific signature of Farhadi's drama in this movie. Farhadi never talk about his movies explicitly but I guess purpose of The Past sending an alarm to the selfish man who's always run from his past or in other words its past decisions. This past decisions is impact in our life and the others that we like them to much and Farhadi says "Be careful of Bad effect" maybe for this Marie never let to Ahmad to explain the reason for departure because She believe That decisions is the starting point for adventures that occurred four years later.Similarly, we can determine to the relationship between Marie and Samir or decision of Lucie or Naïma's decision and Or even the Céline's decision. Expand
  4. Dec 21, 2013
    9
    Not quite as outstanding as "A Separation", The Past is still a very good movie. The care that this family takes in examining and exploring the events of the past is remarkable. Bejo is always great to watch, but I was expecting a bit more from her here. I'm not sure that her part was written sufficiently enough to make her shine, or whether she really is the true focus of the film. The compassion of the Ahmad character is amazing. Ali Mosaffa is a heavyweight talent. Expand
  5. Mar 30, 2014
    8
    An Iranian man returns to Paris to finalize his divorce, where the relationships with his wife's new beau and their children cause the movie's complex struggle. As he so brilliantly showed in his last film ("A Separation"), director Asghar Farhadi has the ability to imbue even the most mundane moments with significance. As the conflicts develop, he elicits compelling performances from his entire cast (including the moving young Elyes Aguis). This is an intelligent writer/director: he lets the story unfold in small bits and never resorts to histrionics. There's no music or any other technique to manipulate the audience, just solid filmmaking and an absorbing drama. (In French with subtitles.) Expand
  6. Jan 21, 2014
    7
    This French movie is made by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi whose film "A Separation" won the best foreign movie two Oscars ago.
    It is shut
    in the best French tradition with the whole palette of emotional nuances.
    Masterfully directed and acted, it has only one fault in my opinion: the script is over-done. There is one interesting twist in the story, then another one, then yet another one. When the movie took the last turn I felt that is was one too much. Overall, it is a very good movie worth watching.
    Expand
  7. Jan 28, 2014
    4
    It takes Iranian director and writer of the screenplay, 2 hours and 10 minutes to get to the end of this slow moving film and really doesn't have an ending. What happens to the characters in the film is left up to you to decide but you really don't care and by the time you leave the auditorium you have forgotten the film. The film is set in a suburb of Paris but you would never know as it doesn't feature anything in France except most of the language is in French.

    The film is about relationships and there are many in this film starting with Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) arriving from Iran, his homeland, where he had returned 4 years before not returning, leaving his wife Marie (Berenice Bejo) who has asked him to come back to sign the divorce papers. She has a new lover, Samir (Tahar Rahim) whom she is pregnant by and who has a wife in a coma in the hospital after attempting suicide. Marie has two children Lucie (Pauline Burlet) and Lea (Jeanne Jestin) from her first husband who now lives in Brussels with his wife while Samir has a son Fouad (Elyes Aguis) who has found a friend in Lucie. The two girls have come to see Ahmand as a father figure and it is Lucie, the ever sullen teenager, who points out to him and says, “Isn’t it obvious? The reason she is with Samir is because he looks like you!”

    Why does Marie insist that Ahmand stay with her and doesn’t book the hotel room he wanted? Why did Samir’s wife attempt suicide and will she come out of her coma? Samir owns a cleaners and has an illegal female worker Niama (Sabrina Ouazani) who was involved in a fight between his wife and a customer and the wife attempted the suicide in front of the worker. Marie has a sprained wrist which she blames the painting and refurbishing of her home and has nothing to do with the movie.

    The cast, in spite of being hindered by the director/writer, is more than adequate with Elyes Aguis as the young boy outstanding. Berenice Bejo who starred in “The Artist” makes up for not talking in that film and is far from the happy dancing she played in that film. The men, Rahim and Mosaffa, are interesting to watch but, like all the characters in the film, neither their guilt, their relationships or why they do/did certain things are explained.

    “The Past” is too long by at least 20 minutes and though a movie doesn’t have to provide answers it asks too many unanswerable, unnecessary questions.
    Collapse

See all 16 User Reviews

Trailers