The following is an edited version of what I wrote after the Telluride Film Festival. I haven't had the opportunity to see the film again yet.
Asghar Farhadi’s films deftly prod deeper and deeper by peeling away the layers of the situation he establishes. He has a quietly powerful presence with complexity of thought, depth of feeling, patience, and profound understanding.
Like A Separation, The Past masterfully circles around a central conflict by moving from character to character, exploring each person’s unique perspective, and in this case pain, to establish complete understanding. Each portrait is fully realized. Several times I couldn’t hold back tears, as Farhadi slowly pulled back the curtain. Like one rarely does at the cinema, I felt the full depth of characters’ emotions. I felt the character Lucie so strongly inside that I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I couldn't stop caring about her.
The tragedy of The Past is that all human beings are essentially the same, and our inability to see this often causes tremendous pain, whether that be in minor quibbles or death. Farhadi doesn't explain ideas we haven't already considered, that's not his skill. He shows us the humanity behind those ideas, in a deeper, more empathetic way than we've experienced.