Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Not really About Elly

Melbourne International Film Festival 2009

About Elly (Darbareye Elly) is a Iranian film about a group of youngish middle class couples from Tehran. They head off for a long weekend on the Caspian Sea in their cars that include a BMW and a Patrol 4WD. The sole single amongst them is a woman named Elly who is the kindergarten teacher one of the couple’s children.

When Elly disappears, presumed dead, anger takes over. The story is not really about Elly whom they and we barely get to know. Rather it explores their insecurities and fears, revealing conflict, frustration and mistrust between both couples and friends. An increasingly complex web of lies is the catalyst for the erupting arguments and personal attacks.

Writer/director Asghar Farhadi has crafted a solid but fairly conventional piece. It is reminiscent of an Ian McEwan novel. Early fun of the weekend is only marred by Elly's concern that she get back home after only one night. Her sudden disappearance plunges them into increasing attempts to cover over what has occurred. Deception and lies make revealing the truth more poisonous and destructive.

The film’s two hours could have been trimmed to increase its impact. Its suspense is not heightened by often slow, laboured detail. Despite this it is worth a look. The cast give powerful and convincing performances.

About Elly is not just a different and highly relevant perspective on urban, middle class Iranians. It’s about the nature of truth and what it means for our closest relationships.

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