Blog Post

Analyzing A Separation with New Eyes

Sep 7th, 2016

Watched one of the greatest films of the last decade again last night—A Separation. Remarkable how much tension the simple act of getting a divorce can generate when placed in the hands of an unbelievably talented writer/director and cast.

The viewing also gave me the opportunity to test out the modifications to the Audience Appreciations I wrote about in last week's article, How to Tell if Your Main Character Faces Overwhelming or Surmountable Odds and our most recent podcast, Does Your Main Character Build Resistance or Facilitate Flow?

Looking at Nader's personal issues, he certainly faciliates a ton of flow. Manipulative to a fault and hell-bent on proving himself right to the detriment of everything else—including his own daughter—Nader makes it easier for the narrative to shift from one Act into the next. A Be-er in a Decision driven story tends to do that.

The Nature of the story almost threw me off at first. My instincts said the task was more than surmountable for Nader, but I hesitated when I recalled that the story was an all-out Tragedy. But that only lasted until I re-remembered again that this is one of those rare Stop/Bad stories.

Start/Good narratives only sound more surmountable than Stop/Bad. In practice, they function the same way in providing an Audience with the feeling that the task at hand is manageable for the characters.

In A Separation, Nader's personal issues of having to be right all the time facilitates the flow of the narrative, making the conflict a surmountable and manageable task for him. Read our Deep Analysis of A Separation for a more detailed look at the structure of this fantastic film.