Women seem to know the answer to men’s problems in this superlative suspenseful drama from Farhadi, as suspected infidelity threatens to ruin the lives of a married couple.
Cast: Hediyeh Tehrani, Taraneh Alidoosti, Hamid Farokhnezhad
Plot: On the last Wednesday before the spring solstice ushers in the Persian New Year, people set off fireworks following an ancient Zoroastrian tradition. Roohi, spending her first day at a new job, finds herself in a domestic dispute between her new boss and his wife.
Awards: Nom. for Golden Leopard (Locarno)
Distributor: DreamLab Films
Subject Matter: Moderate – Infidelity; Marriage
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Viewed: Oldham Theatre – Asian Film Archive (Asghar Farhadi Retrospective)
Women seem to know the answer to men’s problems as Asghar Farhadi pulls off his third feature (after 2003’s Dancing in the Dust and 2004’s Beautiful City) with aplomb.
What I remember most from Fireworks Wednesday are the popping sounds of firecrackers that constantly punctuate the bustling street life. It’s the Persian New Year and kids are already celebrating the day before the young adults rule the night in a near anarchic fashion.
Out of all the noise, Farhadi brings us to a building where the drama unfolds more explosively than any firecracker can dream of. Samiei suspects her husband is cheating on her, which the latter vehemently denies.
As Roohi, a young woman who’s about to get married shows up on the first day of a new temp job as their housekeeper, she becomes privy to conversations, gestures and signs that may be revealing some kind of truth—or not.
“Mom said someone kept calling from the same number.”
Although fully in dramatic mode, Fireworks Wednesday remains suspenseful throughout as tensions escalate between the couple, with Roohi in the crossfire and not quite grasping fully the implications of her knowledge, actions and inactions.
Hediyeh Tehrani (as Samiei) and Taraneh Alidoosti (as Roohi) are both superb—the former’s performance feels like a whisker away from an inevitable trigger into a full-blown mental breakdown, while the latter, young and thus inexperienced in what life has yet to throw at her, paradoxically projects a sense of calm despite her insecurities.
In hindsight, Fireworks Wednesday feels like a spiritual prequel to A Separation (2011), as Farhadi skilfully milks affecting stories out of thematic concerns such as marriage, family and responsibility.
These may be mundane themes, but under the hands of a master filmmaker, they become more than just fireworks—they become landmines.