Art is beyond language, beyond time. Forushande, or what it is better known by globally – The Salesman movie, is a perfect paragon of it. When you watch the actors in the movie perform so effortlessly and unflinchingly, and the director helm every minutiae of life so impeccably you can’t just applaud enough.
When you find such a beautiful movie take stunning shape with all the right emotions and thoughts, it just melts your heart to know that really good and profound cinema isn’t just the prerogative of a limited few. It is a global affair. It is that rare form of art that is capable of touching countless lives in its wake. It rekindles your faith in movies all over again and makes you immensely hopeful for the world.
The Salesman movie is a Persian Drama that tears an ugly page from a life of a teacher whose wife gets assaulted when they shift to a new home. It is the search for his wife’s assailant and the mental trauma that affects them both every day that forms the basis of the tale. But what is worth noting is the ending of the movie that poses so many questions that leave us in a pool of intense reflection.
Direction and Casting in The Salesman Movie
Asghar Farhadi is a fascinating director. It feels great to have bumped into his work. Glad that I found him in the form of The Salesman movie. His work highlights the mundane in a captivating light, and it is hard not to focus on little things in his frames. Be it be a tiny reaction that’s lodged on a face or the gravitas hidden behind his prolonged shots. Everything is remarkably done.
Complementing his work outstandingly well at all times is the genius Shahab Hosseini. I think the world has so less of his kind, that you can’t help but scorn at all those elite thrones where the undeserving sit with their smug smiles. Why isn’t he in every movie? He is so good for crying out loud!
His Emad Etesami is a revolt. He is probably the most admirable character in the movie. He is nothing but a common man trying to get by, trying to juggle his life between theater and teaching. Close by his side is a flower of a woman Rana Etesami, portrayed brilliantly by Taraneh Alidoosti. They have an amazing chemistry which gets soiled by the assault that leaves Rana traumatized. She isn’t willing to go to the police to punish her invader. It kills Emad to see her in a mental state like that, crying and taken aback by the setback, and that’s why Emad has to get to the bottom of things to find her invader and deliver his own version of justice. In short, he has to take matters in his own hand, and avenge her.
Situations Turn People Monsters (Spoilers Ahead)
Whatever the case might be, Asghar Farhadi doesn’t hold himself from showing us the ultimate image of ourselves in the mirror. There could be nothing wrong with us. We could be great human beings in person, but all it takes is one mistake. One quick twist of fate that can carve monsters out of us. So it happens with the unplanned antagonist who gives in to lust. He feels terribly sorry for it, but it’s too late to apologize when the damage has already been done.
Then there is that quintessential good guy in the form of Emad, whose personal life consequences start to affect his behaviour around his friends and students. In the insanity to pin the assailant of Rana, he ends up becoming a monster himself. He is willing to do whatever it takes to punish the culprit even after he finds him to be a penitent old man.
That big painting of Asghar portrays a man’s fickle affair with emotions. He shows how quickly things can change. How easy it is to become something you are not! In that madness to close in on the criminal to deliver poetic justice, Emad becomes relentless. Somehow things stay personal, the feeling “how can I let a man get away with a heinous crime” is strong in him, and he ends up overseeing everything. You can’t help but wonder – “Where did that good samaritan Emad go?”
The Women Mindset
It is hard to oversee the mindset of women in the flick too. Like that one in a cab who was uncomfortable with Emad sitting next to her, constantly insulting him, asking him to sit properly when clearly Emad was trying to make the best of the situation. On being approached by an observant caring student, who had overseen everything, Emad explains:
You can be sure, some guy had done something to her in a taxi before to make her think that way about everyone.
It wasn’t her fault really, it was just that she had a hard time trusting others because of one unpleasant incident in her life.
That surrealism can be supported by exactly what happens with Rana, when she begins to judge everything after her formidable incident. It is something humans are incapable of dealing with. It is hard to come back from that. You can only wish time to heal things or in this case as Emad deems as apt – a proper closure by seeking revenge. But the sad thing is that the latter is never the answer.
You can order The Salesman Movie here:
The Ending of The Salesman Movie
Probably the most outrageous outbreak happens at the end of The Salesman movie. It is one great easel of pain where we get to see some real reactions caving in. It is a medley of emotions where Emad is trying to deliver justice, Rana has already forgiven her assailant and trying to stop him from doing so, whilst her attacker Farid Sajjadi Hosseini is literally down on his knees begging for mercy.
It is a gorgeous take of human conundrum. Even when the victim had forgiven her perpetrator, Emad is not willing to let go. You cannot help but put yourself in Emad’s position to try and grasp how he is and has been feeling. Such anger, such pain, for things that weren’t unfair to him and his wife, and to their lost life. He cannot let a man walk out free, out of mere mercy. Even though it sounds so unlike him, he has to set things right.
The weird thing of it all is that even though there might be an ounce of conscience lurking in Farid (since he tried to make amends with the money and apologized a million times) he is completely devoid of morality. He doesn’t stop with the lying. He just wants to escape the nightmare. The shame of it is so huge for him that he cannot accept the mistake in front of his family. Yet he wishes things to go back to normalcy quickly despite the horrendous crime he has perpetrated.
The Immorality Business
Farid just seeks forgiveness in one form or the other but that’s all he has in him. The very thought of losing everything that he has built painstakingly with years of trust is so shattering that he isn’t willing to even try. That ends up making him look brazen and pathetic, a light he was already in right from the beginning.
At one point you can relate with Emad so much that you wish to punish the man yourself. You are constantly feeling all that anger boil up in you searching for the man, and when you finally find him, nothing in the world could stop you from taking him by the collar.
But then there’s another point in the same timeline, where you feel maybe it is time to let things go. When Rana forgives Farid and asks Emad to stop bothering him, that’s when you feel maybe it is enough. But Emad doesn’t stop, he has to get it all out. He has to tell Farid’s family about his misdeeds as a sort of revenge.
The final decisive point upturns everything. Rana threatens Emad with:
If you say anything to his family, I don’t wanna have anything to do with you.
Emad still ends up calling Farid to a room and slaps him hard. It is all that pain, the stress and humiliation that ends up killing Farid. We find Rana walking away from the scene, and a perplexed Emad wondering about his action. It is a very strange place to be in. It is a hell of his own creation and Emad is gradually burning in it. He took a life for Christ’s sake! Even though accidental, he let go of his calm to turn into something he was never trying to be.
Makes You Ponder
It compels you to think about the aftermath, as to what would happen next. Will Rana ever forgive Emad? She probably would but it would take her a lot of days to reconcile. It could have been an accident, but Rana would blame Emad forever for taking a man’s life.
When the screen goes blank you play it in your head, as to what could have been your course of action? If you were not to involve the police, would you have forgiven a guy like Farid? The man who lied to his wife for 35 years? And the irony of it all in the statements his wife says for him on finding him alright:
God knows, on our way here I vowed to give away a hundred different charities, just to hear his voice one more time. He’s my whole life, mister. Thank you so much. You gave me my life back. He’s all I’ve got.
It just makes you want to shake your head for a lying cheating prick Farid is. And yet somewhere in your heart you figure out that it is okay to forgive when the victim has come to terms with it. How far are you willing to drag it, and at what cost?
The Final Verdict
The Salesman movie is a very powerful flick that forces you to wear the shoes of Emad trying to deliver justice to a corrupt shriveled man, and then impels you to introspect as to what really went wrong, and how could a breakdown be avoided. More importantly it compels you to think about human actions, be it be in the form of Farid who had committed a crime, and was constantly regretting it, or Emad, who was just doing his job to set things right.
Asghar Farhadi’s poignancy makes me want to watch all of his movies. The depth in his frame is strangely riveting. The drama is absolutely unbeatable. I can’t wait to find more of him. Do suggest some of his work and I will steal time to watch him.
Do visit the category of Iranian movies. It will amass plenty over time.
You can check out the trailer of The Salesman movie here: