A take on modern relationships, the film packs in hard truths

Asghar Farhadi’s Le Passe (The Past) tells us the story of the consequence of a dysfunctional relationship, four years after a separation (incidentally, his last Oscar winning outing was A Separation). Though The Past is not a sequel, you can see a lot of that narrative form (use or mirrors, doors, windows in compositions) continue in this film, similar content steers away to make a wholly different point.

Farhadi borrows elements of classic Whodunnits to weave a suspenseful tale about the mysterious death of a... relationship, yet again.

If A Separation was about different versions of truth from parties connected to an incident, The Past tries to tell you that sometimes truth does not matter. We can keep investigating, try to find answers, compare versions to get to the bottom of the truth but the only truth is that The Past is a memory that refuses to let go.

As the voice of reason tells us: “Cut... You cannot have it both ways.”

Every character in The Past has a problem letting go, and the film packs in hard truths about modern relationships.

Do we fall for those who remind us of our past, just to fill the void they have left in our lives?

The actors, Berenice Bejo (remember her from The Artist?), Ali Mosaffa and Tahar Rahim, are terrific and so real that you accept them for who they are, with all their greys. Nobody understands the nuts and bolts of relationships better than Farhadi, and the filmmaker with a spanner keeps tightening and loosening the screws to show us the complexity of human nature.

We all want to move on, yet there is a part of us holding on to the past that is neither fully dead nor alive — as that beautiful last shot sums up the film.

(Do catch The Past at the Chennai International Film Festival at Woodlands, 2 p.m. on December 18)