about-elly-oct-9thAbout Elly was finally released here following the success in Europe of Farhardi’s later film, A Separation. This is another morality tale, this time about a group of educated middle-class friends, who are travelling to the Caspian with their families to enjoy a weekend by the sea. Sepideh has invited her daughter’s teacher Elly to join them, with the intention of matchmaking her with their newly divorced friend Ahmad, despite being aware of Elly’s engagement to be married. Events take many dramatic twists, and relationships within the group are challenged. “Yet as in A Separation, it’s not hard to detect a subtext: a critique of the lies and evasions that permeate Iranian society” – Philip Kemp, Sight and Sound. (Cert 12A)
Dir: Asghar Farhardi 119 mins Iran/France 2009

Programme Notes

About Elly (Darbareye Elly)
Iran 2009 119mins Cert 12A

Iranian director Asghar Farhardi was born in Isfahan in 1972 and as a young teenager attended the Youth Cinema Society in his home town. From there he progressed to the University of Tehran’s School of Dramatic Arts, whence he received his Bachelor degree in Theatre in 1998. A few years later, he gained a Master’s degree from the Tarbiat Modarres University.

About Elly, despite receiving an award for Best Picture at the Tribeca Film Festival, a Silver Bear award for Best Director at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival and a nomination for the 2009 Academy Awards, only gained a general release after the success of his later film A Separation in 2011. From Farhardi’s body of work thus far, we see a director who likes to pose questions and who requires the viewer to engage in his narratives, and who may then be surprised by the complexities of his moral dilemmas there illustrated. It is at odds with the usual reporting of matters Iranian, as seen by the Western press.

The film tells the story of a group of friends and their respective families on a weekend trip to the Caspian sea, where from the outset, due to their villa having been double-booked and less salubrious accommodation being offered, the weekend begins badly.

“If you give an answer to your viewer, your film will simply finish in the movie theatre. But if you pose questions, your film actually begins after people watch it. In fact, your film will continue inside the viewer.” Asghar Farhardi, IMDb

Sepideh – Golshifteh Farahami
Elly – Taraneh Alidoosti
Ahmed – Shahab Hosseni
Peyman – Peyman Moaadi
Shohreh – Merila Zare’i

Director – Asghar Farhardi
Producers – Asghar Farhardi, Simage Mehr
Screenplay – Asghar Farhardi, Azad Jafarian
Cinematography – Hossein Jafarian
Original Music – Andrea Bauer


“What a moving story! Excellent performances”

“Excellent insight into Iranian culture and family life”

“The cultural insights and ways of thinking made this an interesting and powerful story.”

“A remarkable and brilliant film – magnificent characterisations”

“Beautifully produced and well acted. An unflinching study of people doing their best in a rigid social system.”

“A fantastic film – the whole range of emotions against the moral dilemmas.”

“A maze of moral complexity and webs of deceit – fascinating!”

“Extra-ordinary layers of deceit and hypocrisy”

“The trickiest charades I’ve ever played …. Oh, what a tangled web we weave ….”


“Really gripping – I loved the way the ocean was portrayed.”

“Would I like to see this film again? Yes! If I got the chance, I would appreciate it even more.”

“Much food for thought”

“Harrowing but very thought provoking”

“Very [illegible]. Good to see something from Iran.”

“Took a long time to get to the point. I found some difficulty in distinguishing between the male and female characters.”

“Pretty well done but they were a very irresponsible lot and Sepideh should have been put in an asylum long ago. I needed seasick pills. What is ululating?”

“I do love to be by the seaside ….”

“Not exactly Butlin’s-by-the-sea”

“Anyone for volleyball?”


A:15, B:17, C:4, D:1, E:0 to give 81%