The lineup for next month’s Cannes Film Festival is announced next week, and while much of it is still shrouded in mystery, at least one title we’re certain will show up (and one of those we’re most eagerly anticipating) is Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past.”
The Iranian director of the Oscar-winning “A Separation” has never played the Croisette before; “A Separation” and his 2009 breakout “About Elly” were both Berlinale premieres, but it’s time for a move up the hierarchical festival ladder. And given that Farhadi’s latest is a French production, Cannes is the obvious place to unveil it — most likely in Competition. (It opens in France on May 15, presumably simultaneously with its festival premiere.)
The first trailer for the French-language film hit the internet over the weekend; there are no subtitles, but those of you who speak no French should still get the gist. Like “A Separation,” “The Past” looks to be a morally tangled marital drama, starring Bérénice Bejo (an Oscar nominee last year for “The Artist,” of course) and Ali Mosaffa as a married couple in France who separate when the Iranian husband chooses to return to his homeland. Upon returning to Paris to finalize the divorce, he finds she has already taken up with another man (“A Prophet” star Tahar Rahim).
The trailer suggests all the even-handed, discursive intelligence we’ve come to expect from Farhadi. (If “A Separation” is your only taste of his work to date, be sure to seek out “About Elly,” which is very nearly as good.) It also promises a meaty opportunity for Bejo to show us a different side of her talent after her sparkly (and silent) ingenue turn in “The Artist”: the French-Argentinian actress inherited the role when Marion Cotillard dropped out. (Here’s hoping, too, that Rahim registers as strongly as he recently did in “Our Children,” another intense relationship drama.)
No word yet on a US distributor, though it seems likely one will surface not long after (or even before) its Cannes debut. (Whatever the response to the film, incidentally, don’t expect it to be in the foreign Oscar hunt: it doesn’t appear to be an Iranian production, so Farhadi won’t be able to compete for his home country, while France only submits French nationals. Still, that’s not the most salient point right now.)