Set in Paris, France The Past follows Ahmed, an Iranian man, returning to France to finalize his divorce from Marie (Bérénice Bejo), who he left four years prior. This film is entirely in French so be prepared for subtitles and accents. I’d first like to focus on the acting in this film, it was amazing to say the least. Ahmed played by Ali Mossafa was brilliant, in literally every scene you cannot take your eyes off of him. His character although seems solemn and lonely shows a lot of growth and understanding, he speaks of his past as a distant memory and to me I found that very captivating.
When it comes to French foreign films I have one favorite, Amelie, with Audrey Tatou, it is my go to when I’m sick or feel like watching a whimsical romance. I bring this up because this film is opposite. It is not about romance or the creation of a relationship or discovery of identity rather, it is about the connections people have currently and how they change very quickly when keeping secrets or hiding from your past.
Ahmed returns to France to finalize his divorce from his ex Marie who has two children from a previous marriage. Lucie , a troubled teen played by Pauline Burlet who is utterly stunning and Lea, who gets little screen time but when she does is very believable and adorable. Not only is Pauline Burlet gorgeous but every scene she is in you create an instant connection with her, you feel for her, you agree with her, you want her to succeed. Lucie is troubled with the loss of yet another father figure in her life and gaining a new one in the form of Marie’s new fiancé, Samir. Lucie has some obvious objections to their relationship and in turn is acting out because of them. The film is centered around the relationships between these 4 people Marie, Ahmed, Samir and Lucie, and how each of these are affected by the past.
There is a very interesting dynamic between Bejo and Burlet. Bejo as Marie (the mother) and Burlet as Lucie, share in a very complex characteristic. Both are very stubborn and emotional in their portrayals. Watching the two of them on screen together their scenes are very tense with emotions of sadness, anger, loss, distrust both were so very convincing. The two as a pair were simply to put it, flawless in their delivery.
To me the concepts behind this film are how if things are in the past why do we not leave them there, and then there is this fantastic secondary concept considering why we feel we have to leave things in the past and not make amends in the present? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I’ve been told foreign films do that to people. I highly recommend this film purely based off of the acting. I’d also like to put a trigger warning on this film as it talks about some very serious subjects including suicide, adultery and has some slightly violent scenes.
Overall this film was very good, even if it seems you know how the story will play out you may be surprised by how these connections between people and their pasts which they either refuse to speak about or that they hide from effect them.