About Elly (Asghar Farhadi, 2009)

What's it about? A group of middle-class friends head off on a weekend break to the seaside. With them is a new acquaintance, Elly, who has been brought along in a potential match-making ploy for the only single man in the group. However, when Elly disappears in alarming circumstances, the blame game begins. And how much do they really know about her?

Is it any good? I tracked this down because I had been so impressed by Farhadi's A Separation, which was the best film I seen in 2011. This is not quite as good as that masterful film, but it is still a wonderfully observed and acted drama, which starts slowly but becomes increasingly tense as the situation puts strain on friendships and marriages. Farhadi's deft script continually drip-feeds us information about the characters as secrets and lies are revealed in credible, compelling fashion, whilst the relationships also act as a window on Iranian culture for Western audiences. It's absorbing drama, not because the revelations are that sensational, but because Farhadi has taken the time to show that, for these people, bound by the rigid moral code of Iranian society, the consequences could be devastating. Also, Golshifteh Farahani, who plays Sepidah, is a lovely girl.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Lots of people think she is lovely, plus she has been banned from Iran for doing a nude photo shoot in a French magazine. Go girl! She also................what? Oh, what do others think of the film? Sorry, yes, that's important too. Well, everyone thinks it's pretty damn good too - the DVD cover is festooned with 4- and 5-star ratings from a range of sources and it won Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009, with many comparing Farhadi's control of his material to Hitchcock. In this interview Farhadi explains his inspiration for the film.

What does the Fonz think?  Quietly powerful

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