About Elly

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About Elly
About elly xlg.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAsghar Farhadi
Written byAsghar Farhadi (screenplay)
Azad Jafarian (thanks to)
Produced byAsghar Farhadi
StarringGolshifteh Farahani
Taraneh Alidoosti
Shahab Hosseini
Mani Haghighi
Merila Zarei
Peyman Moaadi
Ahmad Mehranfar
Rana Azadivar
Saber Abar
CinematographyHossein Jafarian
Edited byHayedeh Safiyari
Distributed byDreamlab Films (international)
Axiom Films (UK and Ireland)
Release date
  • June 6, 2009 (2009-06-06)
Running time
119 minutes
Box office$7,000,000[1]

About Elly (Persian: درباره الی‎, translit. Dar bāre-ye Elly) is a 2009 Iranian drama[2] film directed by Asghar Farhadi. It is the fourth film by Farhadi. The film is about middle class relationships in Iran.

Farhadi won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 59th Berlin International 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 director. About Elly was Iran's official submission for the competition in the Foreign Film section at the 82nd Academy Awards.


A group of middle-class Iranians, former classmates at the law faculty of the university, go to the Caspian Sea for a three-day vacation: Sepideh, her husband Amir and their young daughter; Shohreh, her husband Peymān and their two children, including their son Arash and Nāzy and her husband Manuchehr. Sepideh, who planned the trip, brings along her daughter's kindergarten teacher, Elly, in order to introduce her to Ahmad, a divorced friend visiting from Germany.

At the seaside mansion that Sepideh has booked the woman in charge tells them the owners will return the next day and suggests that they stay instead in a deserted beach-front villa. Sepideh lies to the old woman about the relationship between Elly and Ahmad: she says they're married and on their honeymoon.

Elly is a little shy, but begins to feel interested in Ahmad, who seems to have feelings for Elly. She calls her mother and lies to her, saying that she's with her co-workers at a sea-side resort and that she expects to go back to Tehran the following day, as planned. Sepideh, however, doesn't want her to leave and hides her luggage. One of the mothers asks Elly to watch the children playing at the seaside. 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, while the group continues to search for Elly. The group starts to blame each other for the series of events leading up to her disappearance and her presence on the trip.

However, things are not as they seem, as it turns out that Sepideh has been lying and knew Elly was engaged to a man named Alireza. Since Elly was reluctant to marry Alireza, Sepideh insisted she come on the trip to meet Ahmad. Elly initially refused the invitation, as an engaged woman but, following pressure from Sepideh, eventually accepted. Alireza arrives and attacks Ahmad, then asks Sepideh whether Elly had refused her invitation to go on holiday. Sepideh wants to protect the honour of Elly and tell the truth but, following pressure from the others who feel threatened by Alireza, lies and tells him that Elly accepted the invitation without hesitation.

In the climactic scene, Alireza is shown identifying Elly in a mortuary, breaking down in tears.[3]




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 the national society of Iranian critics.[7] The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 99% approval rating with an average rating of 8.2/10 based on 68 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "About Elly offers viewers performances as powerful as its thought-provoking ideas, and adds another strong entry to Asghar Farhadi's impressive filmography."[8] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 87 out of 100 based on 28 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."[9]

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."[10]

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."[11]

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."[12]

Christopher Bourne, upon seeing the film at the 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."[13]

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."[14]



  1. ^ "«علي سرتيپي» در گفت‌وگو با فارس: فروش تهران «درباره الي» هم ميلياردي شد". Archived from the original on 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
  2. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (September 13, 2012). "About Elly – review". The Guardian. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  3. ^ About Elly Review - The Guardian
  4. ^ "About Elly - Raf". appraf.com. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
  5. ^ Author, Meta. "Darbareye Elly | 2009". flixchart.com. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
  6. ^ "About Elly yapım ekibi, oyuncuları". www.planetdp.org. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
  7. ^ Brady, Tara (September 14, 2012). "About Elly". The Irish Times. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  8. ^ "About Elly (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  9. ^ "About Elly Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  10. ^ "Observations on film art: A masterpiece, and others not to be neglected". DavidBordwell.net. March 30, 2009. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  11. ^ Simon, Alissa (February 7, 2009). "Review: 'About Elly'". Variety. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  12. ^ Eisenberg, Adam (April 27, 2009). "Tribeca Review: About Elly Brings the Iranian Middle Class Center Stage". Flavorwire. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  13. ^ Bourne, Christopher (April 26, 2009). "Asghar Farhadi's "About Elly" – 2009 Tribeca Film Festival Review". Meniscus. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  14. ^ Marshall, Lee (February 7, 2009). "About Elly (Darbareye Elly)". Screen International. Retrieved September 4, 2015. (subscription required)
  15. ^ "Peru film wins Berlin Golden Bear". BBC News. February 14, 2009. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  16. ^ "Curtain comes down on Fajr filmfest with wins for "Hesitation", "About Elly"". Mehr News Agency. February 11, 2009. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  17. ^ "About Elly Wins Another Award". Iran Review. December 20, 2009. Archived from the original on March 8, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  18. ^ Cinema Guild

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