About Elly (Darbareye Elly) (12A)

Film image

The ViewBirmingham Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byJennifer Tate12/09/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 118 mins

Incredibly gripping and brilliantly directed, About Elly is a truly memorable and emotionally engaging Iranian drama with an outstanding lead performance by Golshifteh Farahani.

What’s it all about?
Directed by Asghar Farhadi, who also penned the screenplay, About Elly tells the story of a group of old friends who take a short vacation with their children to coastal Iran. At the heart of the group is Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani), who has ulterior motives for the trip, inviting her daughter’s nursery school teacher, the timid, gentle and blissfully unaware Elly (Taranah Alidousti) along with the intention of fixing her up with her recently divorced friend, Ahmad (Shahab Hosseini), who’s returned to Iran from Germany for a flying visit. But when Elly mysteriously disappears after a freak incident occurs on the second day of the holiday, the jovial trip quickly turns dark as the group of friends try and solve the mystery of the disappearance of a girl they hardly know.

The Good
Director Asghar Farhadi enjoyed international and stellar success with his 2011 Oscar-winning film, A Separation, and as a result this powerful and deeply dramatic Iranian drama, which was actually produced in 2009, finally receives its much-deserved UK release. Intensely gripping right from the start, About Elly is an emotionally engaging and well-paced study of passionate and lingering human emotions including pain, grief, fear, guilt, confusion and desperation. As the mood unexpectedly and suddenly turns dark, Farhadi keeps a strong sense of pace and confidence throughout, creating dramatic suspense as the group of friends grow increasingly haunted by the event and slowly learn of Elly’s unexpected and unravelling secrets.

The Great
Golshifteh Farahani delivers an outstanding and truly memorable performance, effortlessly portraying Sepideh’s optimistic happiness and then later her deep shame and disdain over the disappearance of Elly, who (as she is constantly reminded by her peers) shouldn’t have even been on the trip in the first place. Hosseini as the self-assured yet horrified Ahmad is also notable, providing the film with a strong emotional backbone, which is welcome when the rest of the cast grow hopeless and hysterical. Finally, the cold coastal location of About Elly is fantastic and faultless, with every harsh crash of the sea reminding the group (and the audience) of the cruel unfolding events and each strong breeze sending shivers down the spine.

Worth seeing?
Emotionally engaging, jam-packed with stellar performances and intensely gripping from the start, About Elly is a must see, highlighting Asghar Farhadi’s raw directorial talent.

Film Trailer

About Elly (Darbareye Elly) (12A)
Be the first to review About Elly (Darbareye Elly)...
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 19/05/2019 18:05

Latest Film Reviews

Film Blog

Urban Pundit

Keep up to date with everything in film and cinema at Urban Pundit, the exciting new blog.

Film of the Week

The Conjuring (15)

Hugely enjoyable, genuinely scary horror flick that provides a welcome throwback to classic 1970s chillers, thanks to impeccable production design, a superb script, powerfully atmospheric direction, intense set-pieces and terrific performances.

Latest Close Up

Noah Baumbach Interview

The Frances Ha director discusses co-writing the script with Greta Gerwig, shooting against the backdrop of New York and the real lives of the city’s people, Greta Gerwig’s performance, the music in the film and the picture's visual style.