I suspect Asghar Farhadi tried to steer clear of politics when he wrote and directed A Separation, the wonderful and poignant Iranian film nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar this year, particularly after a "misunderstanding" almost got him banned from making it. But this is a film that takes place in a theocratic dictatorship so political messages might have embedded themselves in the story whether Farhadi intended them or the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance that approved its production allowed them.
Two such messages caught my attention.
The first involves a 911-type call a female caregiver makes to the regime's religious authorities, asking whether it's all right for her to clean the Alzheimer's patient she's taking care of after he pees himself. Understandably, she doesn't want to commit a sin by touching him or seeing him naked. How tragically ironic that anyone would have to ask permission to a religious authority before helping someone in distress.
The second message was less obvious. In fact, it wasn't part of the story at all. It dawned me as I watched that the female characters were all wearing scarfs in their homes, which isn't usually necessary even in Iran. Then I realized, they might have been indoors but we, the sneaky audience, were there too so on went the hijabs! It reminded me of old scenes from I Love Lucy where Lucy and Desi slept in separate beds to satisfy the prudish 1950s censors. Apparently those same censors moved to Iran when their silly work was no longer needed in America.