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Salesman

An actor playing Willy Loman descends into madness as he fixates on revenge

When his wife Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) is assaulted Emad (Shahab Hosseini) sinks into madness as he fixates on revenge. <<© Amazon Studios>>

Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti: Shahrzad) and Emad (Shahab Hosseini: Shahrzad) wake in the middle of the night as their house crumbles. In the midst of producing Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Death of a Salesman, they must make time to find a new home.
    A costar seemingly solves their problem by offering an apartment in a building he manages.
    There the last tenant, and her profession, come back to haunt Rana and Emad. A former client looking for the prostitute finds Rana alone and assaults her in the shower.
    She refuses to talk about the assault or call the police, but Emad can’t let the violation go. By night he plays Willy Loman; by day he searches for the rapist. In his obsession, Emad fails to notice Rana’s deterioration.
    Is he doomed to the misery of the character he portrays on stage?
    This gripping drama about how people deal with trauma is beautifully shot and acted. Director Asghar Farhadi (The Past) is a master at mining seemingly mundane situations and stories for emotional drama. With a more dramatic catalyst than in his usual subject matter, he dissects Emad’s reaction to the assault and chronicles his slow descent into madness as he fixates on revenge.
    Hosseini gives a powerful performance. His Emad is a progressive who’d never identify himself as a domineering husband. But the assault changes him. From self-effacing and sweet, he becomes brutish and loud, demanding his wife agree that finding the rapist will fix their problems.
    As Rana, Alidoosti makes the most of a secondary role. Devastated but attempting to move on, she becomes brittle, seconds from a breakdown, with a husband who cannot see her pain.
    Farhadi offers no easy solutions. He’s interested in how people react and how situations unfold. This can be frustrating, but it gives you plenty to talk about on the way home.

Great Drama • PG-13 • 125 mins.