A woman goes missing by the sea: the stuff of “L’Avventura,” Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960 masterpiece, but also of contemporary Iranian master Asghar Farhadi’s 2009 “About Elly,” only now getting a U. S. release after clearing rights issues. As with his Oscar-winning 2011 “A Separation” and 2013’s “The Past,” Farhadi examines pressures on the modern middle class of Iran, but with visual fluidity and geometric acuity, and “Elly” is the best of these three. Farhadi’s statement of intention, that “a film must open a space in which the public can involve themselves in a personal reflection” is less lucid than any succession of frames in his film. College friends meeting at a villa by the water for a couple of days relaxation, maybe a little romance, is the setup, and all seems placid and cheery. But as events suddenly shift the stakes, the procession of faces, figures, reactions, comprise the poetry of Farhadi’s splendid filmmaking that only begins with his taut, tingling scenario. This is masterful, assured, even thrilling work, a thing of beauty and mystery. 118m. (Ray Pride)
“About Elly” opens Friday, May 8 at the Music Box. The U. S. trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.