Spoiled Children of Divorce


“A Separation”

The 2012 Oscar for Best Foreign Film was given to a movie made in Iran.  It’s called “A Separation.”  It’s also a movie about Divorce, but the Hollywood film scene thinks it’s a movie about a couple struggling to make a better life for themselves in a different country. 

Anyway, this isn’t another immigration story with a happy ending. Unless you want to move to Iran because artists and intellectuals there are capable of expressing deep thoughts.  The IMDb database describes it as:

A married couple are faced with a difficult decision – to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer’s disease.

If that’s what the U.S. viewer thinks this is the story he’s going to see he’s in for a rude awakening, especially if he’s a divorced parent.  Or, at least I think he might get an awakening.   Divorced parents are pretty stubborn people.  Hollywood certainly didn’t get it.  If it had it certainly wouldn’t have given an award to it.

So, during the first scene you see the couple explaining their divorce to a judge.  They both give their arguments.  Things get tense, the judge has to tell them to shut up a couple of times and then they file for the divorce which the wife wants and the husband doesn’t want.  They have a 12-year old daughter who wants to stay at home with the father and grandfather. 

The Mother goes to live with her parents and the Father is faced with having to hire someone to stay with his Father all day long.  He hires someone who is not comfortable with the job.  Things get worse and worse and the caretaker ends up leaving the grandfather in the house alone tied to the bed.  This leads to the Father coming home and getting really angry and shoving her out the door.   Pregnant, she falls and suffers a miscarriage.  The Father is taken into court for murdering the unborn child and the dirty laundry and guilt/innocence of everyone involved gets aired.

Where things get interesting from a Child of Divorce’s point of view is seeing the divorce through the 12-year old daughter’s eyes, of course.  Through all the emotional traumas both the parents’ flaws come to the forefront.  One can see that they are both good people and loving parents. One can also begin to see why they don’t get along.  One can also see that they can’t discuss the other’s flaws with each other.  And while they can’t talk to each other they can easily tell the daughter what they are thinking and feeling.  She then relays the message because, as a 12 year old she is trying to figure the whole situation out herself.  The flaws sort of seem like trivial differences.  The daughter can see the games that men and women play with each other long before she learns about this from her own relationships as is natural. 

The daughter’s presence was strongly felt throughout, but I realized that her point of view was never shown until somebody asked her a question and the camera stayed on her face and she just stared off blankly not saying anything.  There it was.  The amazing silence!

After that I was emotionally involved with her.  Divorce is an extremely emotional experience about relationship failure, but during divorce people don’t think about feelings or relationships, they talk and they talk and they think it will all be okay once the papers are signed.  They are intent only on the action of splitting, even if it means splitting the kid in half.   The way the movie handles the silences and the communications is unbelievably brilliant.   The last scene brings an extreme emotional shock which brings this idea of Silence and the impossible feelings that exist within Divorced families. 

 What was even more shocking was to be watching the movie in a theater in California with mostly older couples.  California being the Divorce capital of the world, I can only assume there were some couples were working on second and third marriages in that room.  Either way, the air in the room was thick when I walked out, and, nobody was talking.  I hadn’t felt that in a long time because my parents have been dead a long time.  It would always lead to my step-mother making a weird sucking sound in her throat and to my Mother havin to go out and get drunk.  My Father would act as if the family were normal.  It involved guilt and denial and blame.  I always knew that life would be easier if I just avoided talking at those points.


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