Monday, November 2, 2015

Now on Netflix: About Elly (2015)

About Elly movie poster
About Elly (2015) - Written and Directed by Asghar Farhadi; Starring Golshifteh Farahani, Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti.

By Kenny Howell

Asghar Farhadi is the best mystery filmmaker, but he doesn't necessarily make mysteries.

The three films of his that I have been lucky enough to see - The Separation, The Past and About Elly - all leave a lot unseen, and slowly reveal themselves to you over the film. But what you learn is always delivered through the character, Farhadi slowly bringing each one to light and making his stories whole.

About Elly is about a group of couples that head out to the sea for the weekend. Most are wives and kids, but one, Elly, is brought along to possibly get engaged to one of the single men. She seems to be a bit reluctant, maybe a show of her independence, but maybe because she just doesn't want to be there.

One day, while the kids are playing in the sea, and the adults are playing volleyball and other activities, one of the children drowns. Elly was supposed to be watching them, but she is nowhere to be found. The adults race out into the sea to save the child, then turn their attentions to Elly, who is nowhere to be seen. They frantically search, but cannot locate her. After an exhaustive search in the treacherous seas, authorities say that she will wash up to shore overnight if in fact she was trying to save the children.

But the group are not necessarily sure that Elly is in the sea. Some believe she could have just left because she was obviously not comfortable with the gathering. The not knowing starts to tear the group apart, and we learn more about who Elly really is, and what actually happened to her. We also learn a lot more about all of the group, and how their actions shaped Elly's fate.

About Elly was actually made in 2009, and played the festival circuit but was never released in the United States. I have no idea why. It is a wonderful film, and luckily the success of Farhadi's other films finally got it a release stateside. Even though it was made six years ago, About Elly further cements Farhadi as one of the best filmmakers in the world, and is one of the better films of 2015.

About Elly is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***1/2

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