Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Asghar Farhadi|
|Produced by||Asghar Farhadi|
|Written by||Asghar Farhadi (screenplay)
Azad Jafarian (thanks to)
|Edited by||Hayedeh Safiyari|
|Distributed by||DreamLab Films (international)
Axiom Films (UK and Ireland)
About Elly (Persian: درباره الی, translit. Darbâreye Eli) is a 2009 Iranian psychological drama film directed by Asghar Farhadi. It is the fourth film by Farhadi. The film is about the relationships between some middle class families in Iran.
Farhadi won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 59th Berlin Film Festival for the film. The film was also nominated for 10 awards at the 27th Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran where Farhadi won the Crystal Simorgh for best directing. About Elly was Iran's official submission for the competition in Foreign Film section at the 82nd Academy Awards. It competed against films such as Bist, Tardid, Bipooli for Iran's submission in the Academy Awards.
A group of middle-class Iranian friends travel to the shores of the Caspian Sea on a three-day vacation. They are former classmates at the law faculty of the university. There are three couples: Sepideh and her husband Amir, who have a young daughter. Shohreh and her husband Peyman, who have two young children, including a son, Arash. Lastly, Nazy and her husband Manuchehr. The trip is planned by Sepideh, who brings along her daughter's kindergarten teacher, Elly, in order to introduce her to Ahmad, a divorced friend, visiting from Germany.
They all go to a seaside mansion that Sepideh has booked, but the woman in charge tells them that the owners are due to return the next day, so they won't be able to stay there after all. She suggests that they stay in a deserted beach-fronted villa instead. There would be no cellphone reception there and they would have to go to the old woman's house in order to make calls. Sepideh lies to the old woman about the relationship between Elly and Ahmad: she says they're married and are there for their honeymoon (referencing legal restrictions on unmarried couples traveling together in Iran).
Elly is a little shy, but she begins to feel attracted to Ahmad, who also seems to have mutual feelings for Elly. While at the trip she calls her mother and lies to her, saying that she's with her co-workers at a sea-side resort and that she wishes to go back to Tehran the following day, as planned. Sepideh however doesn't want her to leave and hides her luggages. One of the mothers asks Elly to watch the children playing in the sea. Later, Arash is found floating in the sea and Elly is nowhere to be seen. Arash is resuscitated, but the group doesn't know whether Elly has drowned or has just left for Tehran. The police are called to investigate, while the group continues to search for Elly. The members of the group soon start to blame each other for the series of events leading up to her disappearance and her initial coming to the trip.
However, things are not as they seem, as it turns out that Sepideh has been lying about certain facts concerning Elly.
- Shahab Hosseini as Ahmad
- Golshifteh Farahani as Sepideh
- Taraneh Alidoosti as Elly
- Mani Haghighi as Amir
- Merila Zarei as Shohreh
- Peyman Moaadi as Peyman
- Ahmad Mehranfar as Manouchehr
- Rana Azadivar as Nazzie
- Saber Abar as Ali-Reza
The film was hailed critically upon the release in its home country. One year after its release, it was voted the 4th greatest Iranian movie of all time by national society of Iranian critics.
One of the strongest supporters of About Elly is David Bordwell, film theorist and film critic, who has called it a masterpiece: "Gripping as sheer storytelling, the plot smoothly raises some unusual moral questions. It touches on masculine honor, on the way a thoughtless laugh can wound someone’s feelings, on the extent to which we try to take charge of others’ fates. I can’t recall another film that so deeply examines the risks of telling lies to spare someone grief. But no more talk: The less you know in advance, the better. About Elly deserves worldwide distribution pronto." 
Alissa Simon of Variety wrote in her review: "To many, the film’s first half may seem mannered, even boring, with the old pals, particularly the men, indulging in obnoxious, condescending behavior. But after an alarming incident at the 45-minute mark, Farhadi ratchets up the tension, and the pic becomes a mystery thriller of sorts that epitomizes the Sir Walter Scott quote, Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. " 
Adam Eisenberg in his review from Tribeca Film Festival called About Elly: "a mirror of sorts to Michelangelo Antonioni’s stylistic revolution, L’Avventura." And wrote: "Here the contrast between Farhadi and Antonioni is perhaps sharpest. Although L’avventura is certainly cinematic with its relationship between images and themes, ... In Farhadi’s world, cold glances, a husband’s demand for more tea, and tearful rage, are all comments, not symbols, on a culture where telling the truth is often not the best option. It’s a culture that lends itself to suspense, and Farhadi might have more in common with Hitchcock, than the Iranian New Wave he emerges from." 
Also Christopher Bourne after seeing the film at Tribeca Film Festival said: "The brilliance of Farhadi’s script and direction (his efforts earned him the Silver Bear for best director at this year’s Berlin Film Festival) becomes most apparent in the latter stages of the film. As one secret after another is revealed, Farhadi deftly maps out the shifts in the perceptions and behavior of the characters toward each other as well as the viewer’s perception of the characters." 
Lee Marshall of Screen Daily called the film "One of the most remarkable Iranian films to surface in the last few years" and added: "About Elly is a small but compelling ensemble piece of surprising depth. It’s one of those rare films that can be read on one level purely as a satisfying drama, but which also has a rich, independent inner life, centered on big questions about right and wrong, social coercion and the lies people tell themselves and each other." 
- Silver Bear for Best Director at the 59th Berlin film festival
- About Elly was Iran's official selection to compete at the 82nd Academy Awards in the field of Best Foreign Language Film.
- Crystal Simorgh for Best Director in 27th Fajr International Film Festival
- Crystal Simorgh for best actor in 27th Fajr International Film Festival( Shahab Hosseini)
- khane cinema awards for best actor( Shahab Hosseini)
- Best Picture at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.
- In Tribeca Film Festival, Farhadi won the award for Best Narrative Feature.
- In Brisbane International Film Festival Farhadi won the Netpac Award.
- Jury Grand Prize (with The Time That Remains) and Best Screenplay at the 2009 Asia Pacific Screen Awards
- Suvarna Chakoram for Best Film in International Film Festival of Kerala 2009.
- «علي سرتيپي» در گفتوگو با فارس: فروش تهران «درباره الي» هم ميلياردي شد
- BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Peru film wins Berlin Golden Bear
- No Operation
- International Film Festival of Kerala
- About Elly at the Internet Movie Database
- About Elly at the Memento Films website (French)
- About Elly in Iran Negah
- About Elly gallery in 30nema website