Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Past

Choosing to watch relationship dramas is always tricky unless you're a masochist or schadenfreude is one of your characteristics. Sometimes watching one can make you feel positively well-adjusted but this isn't to be taken for granted. So if I'm going to go to one there has to be a drawcard or a recommendation, and an expectation of  a new insight or viewpoint into the things that make people tick. The Past was recommended by a friend who is involved with the the Film Festival , Having watched 50 of the films in advance, she said The Past was the standout. And the programme quoted  a reviewer who said "The past is just about as good as a relationship drama is ever going to get". While I'm happy to have watched it, I am not as enthusiastic as either of those two.

The Past looks at a couple who are about get divorced. Ahmad is Marie's second husband, and she had two daughters by her first. Ahmad now lives in his native Iran but has flown back to Paris to get divorced in person and to tie up some loose ends. Marie is in a new relationship with Samir whose wife has been in a coma for some months , having tried and failed to commit suicide. Marie is pregnant. Samir has a son who is the same age as Marie's younger daughter. Marie's older daughter thinks her mother is the reason Samir's wife tried to kill herself. As you can tell, there is plenty of fodder for angst here

The various characters were treated fairly sympathetically, particularly Ahmad. Stepfathers have a bad reputation so that treatment was quite refreshing and the relationship with his about-to-be-ex stepdaughters was very positive. Ahmad's presence means Marie' new relationship is explored from a variety of viewpoints - his, hers and the children's The children aren't portrayed a blameless victims. It all adds up to an absorbing whole but I was left wondering what makes Marie tick.

Anne's rating 2.5/5.

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