Alan A. Stone in the Boston Review:
While the Iran-Israel conflict threatened to explode into yet another war in the Middle East, filmmakers from both countries were honored together at an event before this year’s Oscars. Each country had a nominee for best foreign film—Footnote, from Israel, and A Separation, the winner, from Iran. The films and their makers had much in common, and the Israelis reported warm exchanges; they had been invited to Tehran and the Iranians to Tel Aviv. It will be a political miracle if that cultural exchange happens, but Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi has already achieved a miracle of modern cinema with A Separation.
This unpretentious, low-budget film, which Farhadi says he made for an Iranian audience, has touched the hearts and minds of global viewers. Critics, festival audiences, and cineastes everywhere are united in their praise. In Europe and Asia it was acclaimed best picture of the year. Woody Allen agrees. Totally without glitz and sizzle, A Separation is the thing itself—an art form that speaks to all humanity.
Farhadi’s overseas triumphs may bring his downfall in Iran. The film has fueled the wrath of domestic critics who see him pandering to Western bias. His colleague Jafar Panahi is under house arrest and barred from filmmaking. The theocrats were unhappy about Farhadi’s Oscar acceptance speech, in which he offered his “award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”