Art And Culture

US Critics Praise Farhadi’s ‘About Elly’

US Critics Praise  Farhadi’s ‘About Elly’US Critics Praise  Farhadi’s ‘About Elly’

The movie ‘About Elly’ by the celebrated Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi,  which has been on the US screens for more than a month now, has sold quite well considering the few number of cinemas showing it. It has also collected positive reviews from critics.

Screened for 51 days in 12 theaters, the film made $220,000. Although it is not comparable with the huge releases of Hollywood productions usually screened in more than 3000 theaters simultaneously, “it is still noteworthy for Iranian cinema to have a small share in the US,” Khabaronline reported.

Farhadi is better known for his latest movies ‘A Separation’ which won the Academy Awards for the Foreign Language Film in 2012 as well as several other international awards, and ‘The Past’ which won the Best Actress Award for its French actress Berenice Bejo at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

However, Farhadi’s 2009 production ‘About Elly’ was the beginning of his international fame. The movie brought him the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 59th International Berlin Film Festival and also Best Picture at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The film is about a group of young people who take a trip to the Caspian Sea, but the mysterious disappearance of a kindergarten teacher during the picnic in the north of Iran leads to a series of misadventures for her follow travelers.

Taraneh Alidoosti, Shahab Hoseini, Merila Zare’I, Peyman Moaadi, and Mani Haghighi star in the film.


The film was hailed critically on its release in Iran in 2009 and became one of the bestsellers of the year. One year later, it was voted the 4th greatest Iranian movie of all time by national society of Iranian critics. Many film fans still think of ‘About Elly’ as Farhadi’s best work in spite of the global success of ‘A Separation’ and ‘The Past’.

Writing positive reviews on the movie, foreign critics have praised Farhadi’s psychological drama centering on the relationship between members of the middle class in Iran.

One of the strongest supporters of the film is David Bordwell, film theorist and film critic, who has called it a masterpiece, saying, “Gripping as sheer storytelling, the plot smoothly raises some unusual moral questions. I can’t recall another film that so deeply examines the risks of telling lies to spare someone grief.”

Stephen Holden from New York Times calls it “gorgeous” and says, “The ever-changing sky and sea lend it a moodiness so palpable that the climate itself seems a major character dictating the course of events.”

Farran Smith Nehme of the New York Post writes, “Farhadi is the master of withholding information until the suspense becomes almost unbearable.”

Alissa Simon of Variety wrote in her review: “The film starts as a family drama but after an alarming incident at the 45-minute mark, Farhadi ratchets up the tension, and the film becomes a mystery thriller, no one can guess what will happen up to the very end.”

Lee Marshall of Screen Daily calls the film “one of the most remarkable Iranian films to surface in the last few years” and says, “It is a small but compelling ensemble piece of surprising depth. It’s one of those rare films that can be read on one level purely as a satisfying drama, but which also has a rich, independent inner life, centered on big questions about right and wrong, social coercion and the lies people tell themselves and each other.”