The great value of director Asghar Farhadi’s films, it seems to me, as we saw in his Academy Award winning film A Separation, and again here, is to show that despite cultural differences, we are really the same after all. In this earlier film, here’s the basic storyline: A wife becomes increasingly suspicious of her husband when he doesn’t seem to be taking her needs into account. She sees him as increasingly uncaring and unresponsiveness. He works more and is home less. She believes he’s having an affair with someone and she thinks she knows who. When a cleaning woman shows up from the service her husband called, she puts her to work trying to catch out the woman she believes her husband is cheating with.
Desperate housewives, right? A familiar American story. Not exactly. Desperate Tehranian housewives. Inside the home, we’re more or less all the same. Despite all of out apparent differences.
Farhadi also walks the audience through their notions of who is right and who is wrong. As with the innocence and naiveté of the maid (Taraneh Alidoosti) the audience is increasingly aware of the subtleties of the relationship. The answer to the question “is he really cheating on his wife” changes several times. The maid is also about to be married as she gets pulled in to all this intrigue. The contrast to the trust between she and her fiance and the married couple is stark. The question to consider though, did the married couple start out the same way? How to avoid falling in to the same trap…
The drama takes place on the new year, hence the fireworks of the title.