Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's great relationship drama A Separation won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, and this critical acclaim paved the way for his earlier work to gain distribution in the United States. Last year brought the long-awaited American release of 2009's About Elly, a devastating look at small personal judgments that are magnified by a single moment of public confusion.
Now San Diego audiences have the chance to see Farhadi's impressive 2006 drama Fireworks Wednesday. A multi-character potboiler set primarily in a buzzing Tehran apartment complex, it foreshadows many of the striking themes that he would later perfect in A Separation.
Sent by her cleaning agency to an apartment across town, bride-to-be Rouhi (Taraneh Alidoosti) finds her clients mired in a domestic dispute. Morteza (Hamid Farokhnezhad) argues incessantly with his wife Mojdeh (Hediyeh Tehrani) while the young outsider tries to piece together what exactly has happened thus far. As Rouhi gets pulled deeper into the inner workings of this dysfunctional family, truth and blame become increasingly obscured.
Like many of Farhadi's films, Fireworks Wednesday begins with assumptions, arguments and betrayals already in full swing. Listening to his characters maneuver around each other with lies and gossip is a thing of beauty. Small inconveniences add up over time, creating an environment of subtle hostility and increasing pressure.
Seemingly trivial coincidences reveal essential plot information, not through exposition but calculated editing choices. Fireworks Wednesday, which opens Friday, April 15, stands out from Farhadi's work in this sense, using the occasional jump cut and shift in perspective to create a distrustful sense of time and space.
The complexities of matrimony turn darkly comic as the narrative unspools. Multiple angry conversations between Morteza and Mojdeh take place in close proximity to the couple's large wedding portrait. The symbolism may be a bit obvious by Farhadi's standards, but Fireworks Wednesday doesn't dance around its disdain for failed institutions and stubborn people.
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Fireworks Wednesday: Asghar Farhadi’s 2006 infidelity drama centers around the bee hive of an apartment complex mired in gossip and judgment.
Hostile Border: This frontera drama centers around a young woman thrust into a dangerous position once she is arrested by the FBI. Screens through Thursday, April 21, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Mi Gran Noche: Álex de la Iglesia’s wacky dark comedy takes place during an all-night taping of a New Year’s Eve television special. Screens through Thursday, April 21, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Miles Ahead: Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic focuses grapples with the infamous musician’s genius and self-destructiveness.
The Adderall Diaries: James Franco plays a young writer who suffers from addiction, guilt, regret and everything else a millennial can complain about. Screens through Thursday, April 21, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The First Monday in May: Curator Andrew Bolton prepares his exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass in this documentary by Andrew Rossi.
The Jungle Book: The Disney children’s classic you never thought Jon Favreau would decide to remake. Run Mowgli, run!
One Time Only
Bridge of Spies: Tom Hanks plays a New York City litigator tasked with defending a Russian spy caught on American soil at the height of the Cold War. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library.
Donnie Darko: Richard Kelly’s strange and illusive debut film set in suburban hell of the 1980s tells the story of a disaffected teenage boy who begins to have visions. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, at the Landmark Hillcrest Cinemas.
Superbad: Jonah Hill and Michael Cera play high school students hell bent on having one crazy night of drinking and sex. They get that and then some. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Grandma: Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 15 - 16, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Join maniac host Tim Curry in the wildest midnight movie this side of Mars. Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at Landmark’s Ken Cinema.
Wall-E: The greatest Pixar film about a robot that saves the world from its worst self-destructive tendencies through loyalty and friendship. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.