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While last year’s brilliant domestic drama A Separation brought international acclaim (and even an Oscar) for Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi, a welcome release for this 2009 offering demonstrates it was no flash in the pan. Garlanded at Berlin and Tribeca, About Elly again displays Farhadi’s mastery in drawing us into a story by revealing layers and layers of intrigue. Here, the set-up seems benign enough when an upscale Tehran couple invite their young son’s teacher Elly to join a group of friends on an ad-hoc weekend by the sea but the hidden agenda is to pair her off with an available divorcee returning from Germany to settle down again in Iran.
Fate intervenes, however, and good intentions count for nothing when lives and reputations are at stake, Farhadi brilliantly exploiting the fluid situation to expose how we make assumptions about people without being in full possession of the facts. An utterly gripping encounter, shaped by the hand of a master. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)