The Salesman (2016 film)

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The Salesman
The Salesman.png
Iranian theatrical release poster
Directed byAsghar Farhadi
Produced byAlexandre Mallet-Guy
Asghar Farhadi
Written byAsghar Farhadi
StarringShahab Hosseini
Taraneh Alidoosti
Music bySattar Oraki
CinematographyHossein Jafarian
Edited byHayedeh Safiyari
Memento Films Production
Asghar Farhadi Production
Arte France Cinéma
Distributed byFilmiran (Iran)
Memento Films Distribution (France)
Release date
  • 21 May 2016 (2016-05-21) (Cannes)
  • 31 August 2016 (2016-08-31) (Iran)
  • 2 November 2016 (2016-11-02) (France)
Running time
125 minutes
Box office16.1 billion toman (Iran)[2]

The Salesman (Persian: فروشنده‎, translit. Forušande, released in France as Le Client) is a 2016 drama film written and directed by Asghar Farhadi and starring Taraneh Alidoosti and Shahab Hosseini. It is about a married couple who perform Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman on stage, when the wife is assaulted. Her husband attempts to determine the identity of the attacker, while she struggles to cope with post-trauma stress. Farhadi chose Miller's play as his story within a story based on shared themes. A co-production between Iran and France, the film was shot in Tehran, beginning in 2015.

The film premiered in competition in the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it won two awards—Best Screenplay for Farhadi and Best Actor for Hosseini. The Salesman went on to receive more positive reviews, and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. However, Farhadi did not attend the 89th Academy Awards ceremony in protest of the U.S. Executive Order 13769.


Emad and Rana are a married couple who both work in the theatre, currently starring in a production of Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, with Emad portraying Willy Loman and Rana playing Linda. Emad is also a popular instructor at a local school, where the youth joke about him being a "salesman." One night, their apartment begins to collapse and they flee the building with the other residents. Desperate to find a place to live, their fellow actor Babak secures another apartment for them, where a woman has recently moved out, although she left in a hurry abandoning numerous belongings. One night, Rana is home alone and begins bathing. When Emad returns, he finds she is missing and the bathroom is covered with blood. He rushes to the hospital, where he is informed by his neighbours about his wife's condition and is told to change the apartment's locks. It becomes apparent that Rana has not had an accident, but has been assaulted by an intruder. Emad also learns from neighbours that the previous tenant was a prostitute, who had conflicts with her clients.

Rana returns home, but suffers from trauma and is reluctant to go to the police. She does not bathe, fearing to go into the bathroom again, and in the middle of a performance, breaks down in tears and leaves the stage. Although she does not remember the face of her attacker, Emad finds the culprit left his car keys, which he matches to a pick-up parked outside. The attacker also left behind a mobile phone and money which Rana purchased groceries with, thinking Emad had left it for her. Emad increasingly blames Babak for hiding the truth about the former tenant, at one point calling his character Charley a degenerate in the midst of a performance, although this is not in Miller's script.

Finally, Emad turns to one of his students, whose father used to work in the police. He is able to trace the truck to a man named Majid. Emad consults Majid's prospective father-in-law, who says the truck is shared. Gradually, it becomes apparent the older man was himself the intruder, though he denies attacking Rana, implying he simply startled her. Emad calls the old man's family to the apartment, and locks him in a small room to wait, intending to reveal his true character to them all. When he opens the room the old man appears to be having heart trouble and Emad calls Rana in a panic. When Rana learns what Emad intends, she says it will be over between them if he pursues his revenge.

When the family arrives they believe they have been called to a medical emergency, thanking Emad for saving his life. Just before they leave, Emad insists on settling his account with the old man in private, returning the money he had left after Rana's assault. Unseen by the family, Emad slaps the old man, who then collapses as he is leaving with his family, and they call an ambulance. Rana and Emad return to the theatre together.




Director Asghar Farhadi believed his screenplay explored similar themes to Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman.

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi said he had conceived of much of the story for The Salesman years before production, but did not feel there was enough to make a film until he decided his protagonists should be stage actors.[4] Part of this decision owed to Farhadi's own background in the theatre, and his desire to re-immerse himself in that atmosphere.[5] He also felt actors had to think of themselves as other people and create empathy, and his male protagonist would be forced to feel empathy for another man.[4]

Looking for a play within the film, Farhadi researched the work of Jean-Paul Sartre and Henrik Ibsen before finding Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, which he described as "a gift for me".[6] In Miller's play and his script, Farhadi said he found parallel themes of "humiliation", and also compared the relationship between his characters Rana and Emad to that of Linda and Willy Loman.[4] More symbolism was added with the crumbling buildings, which Farhadi said represented crumbling relationships.[7]


Farhadi, centre, with his stars Taraneh Alidoosti and Shahab Hosseini.

Although he was planning to film a Spanish language-project abroad, Farhadi opted to delay it to return to Tehran to make The Salesman in 2015.[5] He cast Shahab Hosseini in the lead role, marking the third collaboration between the actor and director. Farhadi praised Hosseini for crafting diverse characters.[8]

Other actors from Farhadi's 2011 film A Separation are featured, and he explained the connection was because his films are about young couples.[8] The final scene was shot to appear very theatrical, with lighting from lamps.[7]


The film premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival,[9] included in the In Competition section.[10] The film opened in Iran on 31 August, beginning in Tehran at an unconventionally early time of 6:45 a.m.[11] It was also selected to play at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016, marking its first screening in North America.[12] By 3 December, it grossed $4.2 million in Iran, the highest of any Iranian film to date.[13]

The film premiered in London on 26 February 2017, with a free screening hosted by Mayor Sadiq Khan at Trafalgar Square. A general U.K. release followed on 17 March.[14] Abramorama and Seattle's Northwest Film Forum made plans for a film series called The Seventh Art Stand, with screenings across the U.S. for May 2017, featuring The Salesman and other films from countries affected by the White House's second attempted travel ban, Executive Order 13780.[15]


Critical response[edit]

Farhadi's direction and Shahab Hosseini's performance received positive reviews.

The film received critical acclaim. It holds a 96% "fresh" rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 183 reviews with a weighted average score of 8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Salesman takes an ambitiously complex look at thought-provoking themes, and the well-acted results prove another consistently absorbing entry in writer-director Asghar Farhadi's distinguished filmography."[16] On Metacritic, it holds an 85/100 rating, based on 36 reviews from critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[17]

After its Cannes screening, Owen Gleiberman wrote in Variety that, following Farhadi's A Separation and The Past, The Salesman "is another finely cut gem of neorealist suspense."[18] Donald Clarke's review from The Irish Times stated that "The latest from Asghar Farhadi sees another family put under stress after a violent attack."[19] Deborah Young in The Hollywood Reporter summarized the film as "Masterful particularly in the finale, but not so readily engaging."[20] Time Out critic Dave Calhoun gave the film three of five stars, dissatisfied with the ending.[21]

The film was supported by Iranian social media users, and after its screening and two awards at Cannes, some government officials and politicians congratulated Farhadi. However, conservatives accused the film of Siahnamayi (disparaging Iran).[22]

In The New York Times, A.O. Scott wrote it was not initially clear why Death of a Salesman was selected, but Willy Loman's presence soon became felt, and favourably compared the use of the play to All About My Mother's use of A Streetcar Named Desire.[23] Peter Travers gave the film three and a half stars in Rolling Stone, praising it as "a dazzling, darkly funny, quietly devastating human drama."[24] Entertainment Weekly gave it an A, with Joe McGovern writing the end had great impact.[25] In The Globe and Mail, Kate Taylor gave it four stars, assessing the film as a subtle work with multiple dimensions.[26] Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote in the Chicago Reader that the film was intense, comparing Farhadi to Elia Kazan.[27] Conversely, Bilge Ebiri of LA Weekly wrote that, while Farhadi was talented in intensity and drama, this effort was artificial.[28] The Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw gave it three stars out of five, assessing it as one of Farhadi's lesser films, "potent" but derivative.[29] For The Independent, Geoffrey Macnab gave it four stars, praising Hosseini and Alidoosti's performances.[30] Charlotte O'Sullivan gave it three stars out of five in the London Evening Standard, faulting the screenplay for lack of subtlety.[31]


At Cannes, Shahab Hosseini won the award for Best Actor and Asghar Farhadi won the award for Best Screenplay.[32][33] It also won the unofficial "Palme de Whiskers" in recognition of a featured cat, "Mrow, the Tehran street cat".[34] The film was the Iranian submission for Best Foreign Language Film,[35] winning the Oscar at the 89th Academy Awards, marking Farhadi's second win after A Separation.[36] The Persian playwright and filmmaker, Bahram Beyzai congratulated Farhadi on his Academy Award in a voice message played in public by Hayedeh Safiyari, the editor of the film.[37]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards 26 February 2017 Best Foreign Language Film Asghar Farhadi Won [36]
Asian Film Awards 21 March 2017 Best Screenplay Won [38]
British Academy Film Awards 18 February 2018 Best Film Not in the English Language Nominated [39]
Cannes Film Festival 11 – 22 May 2016 Best Screenplay Won [10]
Best Actor Shahab Hosseini Won
Palme de Whiskers "Mrow" Won [34]
Chicago International Film Festival 21 October 2016 Silver Hugo Special Jury Prize Asghar Farhadi Won [40]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 11 December 2016 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [41]
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association 13 December 2016 Best Foreign Language Film 5th Place [42]
Florida Film Critics Circle 23 December 2016 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [43]
Golden Globe Awards 8 January 2017 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [44]
Guldbagge Awards 22 January 2018 Best Foreign Film Won [45][46]
Mumbai Film Festival October 2016 Audience Choice Award Won [47]
Munich Film Festival 23 June – 2 July 2016 Best International Film Won [48]
National Board of Review 29 November 2016 Best Foreign Language Film Won [49]
Online Film Critics Society 27 December 2016 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [50]
San Francisco Film Critics Circle 11 December 2016 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [51][52]
Satellite Awards 18 February 2017 Best Foreign Language Film Won [53]
Valladolid International Film Festival October 2016 Best Film Won [54]
Vancouver International Film Festival October 2016 Most Popular International Feature Runner-up [55]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association 4 December 2016 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [56]

Academy Awards boycott[edit]

Anousheh Ansari represented Farhadi at the Academy Awards ceremony.

Following United States President Donald Trump's order which blocked entry of citizens from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries to the U.S., on 26 January 2017 Alidoosti tweeted that she would boycott the Academy Awards in protest at the "racist" ban.[57]

On 29 January, Farhadi wrote to The New York Times that he originally planned to attend the ceremony and draw the media's attention to "the unjust circumstances", believing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would share his moderate position. He also compared the ban to the rhetoric of hardliners in Iran.[58] On 30 January, Australian director George Miller supported Asghar Farhadi's decision, saying that "irrational craziness" is "affecting the United States and the rest of the world.",[59] and some of Britain's filmmakers wrote a letter organized by Mark Donne to Hugh Grosvenor, 7th Duke of Westminster, for permission to hold an outdoor screening of The Salesman in London's Grosvenor Square "directly opposite the United States embassy building" on the night of the Academy Awards Ceremony.[60] When that plan floundered, Lily Cole, who was another signatory, brought in Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. Khan offered to Trafalgar Square for a free screening.[61]

On 3 February, La La Land director Damien Chazelle backed and praised Asghar Farhadi when he gave an acceptance speech for winning the top prize of Directors Guild of America Awards. Chazelle said that excluding filmmakers was "anti-art".[62] On 19 February, United Talent Agency's head, Jeremy Zimmer, announced that UTA's annual Oscars party was cancelled and a protest rally would be held instead.[63]

On 24 February, Farhadi announced that Anousheh Ansari, known as the first female space tourist, and Firouz Naderi, a former director of Solar System Exploration at NASA – would represent him at the Oscars ceremony.[64] The night of the Oscar ceremony, 26 February, as the film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Anousheh Ansari took to the stage to read from a prepared statement Farhadi had written which said in part "My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US."[65]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Forushande". LUMIERE. European Audiovisual Observatory. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  2. ^ "Latest Box Office". (in Persian). Alef. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  3. ^ "The Salesman [programme note]". New Zealand International Film Festival. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Freer, Ian (21 February 2017). "Asghar Farhadi talks The Salesman and Oscars". Empire. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b Goodfellow, Melanie (16 November 2016). "Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi talks Iranian drama 'The Salesman'". Screen Daily. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  6. ^ Jaafari, Shirin (16 January 2017). "Iranian filmmaker's latest work combines 'Death of a Salesman' and modern Tehran". Public Radio International. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b Movshovitz, Howie (28 January 2017). "Taking 'Death Of A Salesman' To Tehran". NPR. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  8. ^ a b Dunlevy, T'cha (3 February 2017). "Q&A: Iranian director Asghar Farhadi on his Oscar-nominated film The Salesman". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  9. ^ Jaafar, Ali (22 April 2016). "Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' Added To Cannes Competition". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  10. ^ a b Kevin Jagernauth (22 April 2016). "Cannes Film Festival Adds Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' To Competition Lineup, Mel Gibson's 'Blood Father' And More". Indiewire. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Fans Rush to See Farhadi's 'Salesman'". Financial Tribune. 1 September 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Toronto Film Festival to Show Farhadi's 'Salesman'". Financial Tribune. 28 July 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  13. ^ "'Salesman' Wins US Award". Financial Tribune. 3 December 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  14. ^ Mitchell, Robert (14 February 2017). "Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' to Get Free Oscar-Night Premiere in London". Variety. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  15. ^ Shea, Christopher D. (17 March 2017). "A New Film Series Will Show Movies From Countries Affected By the Travel Ban". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  16. ^ "The Salesman (Forushande) (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  17. ^ "The Salesman Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  18. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (20 May 2016). "Cannes Film Review: 'The Salesman'". Variety. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  19. ^ Clarke, Donald (21 May 2016). "Cannes review of The Salesman - Screenwriter". The Irish Times. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  20. ^ Young, Deborah (20 May 2016). "'The Salesman' ('Forushande'): Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  21. ^ Calhoun, Dave (22 May 2016). "The Salesman". Time Out. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  22. ^ Alipour, Zahra (3 October 2016). "Celebrated abroad, Oscar-winning Iranian director comes under fire at home". Al-Monitor. Archived from the original on 19 February 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  23. ^ Scott, A.O. (26 January 2017). "Review: 'The Salesman', Scenes From a Marriage in Tehran". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  24. ^ Travers, Peter (27 January 2017). "'The Salesman' Review: Oscar-Nominated Iranian Film Will Devastate You". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  25. ^ McGovern, Joe (26 January 2017). "The Salesman: EW review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  26. ^ Taylor, Kate (3 February 2017). "The Salesman: Asghar Farhadi offers art for all political seasons". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  27. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "The Salesman". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  28. ^ Ebiri, Bilge (23 January 2017). "Farhadi Remains a Master Dramatist, but The Salesman Fails Its Namesake". LA Weekly. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  29. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (17 March 2017). "The Salesman review – Asghar Farhadi's potent, disquieting Oscar-winner". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  30. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (15 March 2017). "The Salesman review: Asghar Farhadi's Oscar-winning film makes the domestic feel epic". The Independent. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  31. ^ O'Sullivan, Charlotte (17 March 2017). "The Salesman, film review: Farhadi undersells Miller thriller". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  32. ^ Bright, Charles (22 May 2016). "Cannes Film Festival 2016 winners: Oscars next for 'I, Daniel Blake' and 'The Salesman'?". Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  33. ^ "Cannes Film Festival Winners: Palme d'Or To Ken Loach's 'I, Daniel Blake'". Deadline. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  34. ^ a b Winfrey, Graham (30 May 2017). "Agnès Varda's 'Faces Places' Cat Wins Palme de Whiskers at Cannes 2017". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 13 May 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  35. ^ "Oscars: Iran Selects Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Associated Press. 17 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  36. ^ a b Shoard, Catherine (27 February 2017). "The Salesman wins best foreign language Oscar". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  37. ^ "حاشیه و متن گردهمایی اسکاری در تهران / اصغر فرهادی: دعا کنید!". Iranian Students News Agency. 2017. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  38. ^ Shackleton, Liz (21 March 2017). "'I Am Not Madame Bovary' wins top prize at Asian Film Awards". Screen Daily. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  39. ^ "Bafta Film Awards 2018: All the nominees". BBC. 9 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  40. ^ "52nd Festival: Award Winners" (Press release). The Chicago International Film Festival. 26 October 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  41. ^ "La La Land Leads with 12 Nominations for the 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards". Critics' Choice. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  42. ^ "DFW Film Critics Name 'Moonlight' Best Film of 2016". Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association. 13 December 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  43. ^ "'MOONLIGHT' LEADS 2016 FLORIDA FILM CRITICS AWARDS NOMINATIONS". Florida Film Critics Circle. 21 December 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  44. ^ "Golden Globes 2017: The Complete List of Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  45. ^ Haimi, Rebecca (4 January 2018). "Flest nomineringar till Borg – Östlund: "Det känns okej"". SVT (in Swedish). Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  46. ^ Pettersson, Leo (22 January 2018). "Glädjetårar efter Sameblods succé". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  47. ^ ""The Salesman" wins Audience Choice Award at Mumbai Festival". Tehran Times. 28 October 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  48. ^ Leo Barraclough (3 July 2016). "Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' Triumphs at Munich Film Festival". Variety.
  49. ^ "2016 Award Winners". 29 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  50. ^ "20th Annual Online Film Critics Society Awards Nominations". Online Film Critics Society. 27 December 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  51. ^ Flores, Marshall (9 December 2016). "San Francisco Film Critics Circle Nominations!". Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  52. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (12 December 2016). "'Moonlight' Named Best Picture by San Francisco Film Critics Circle". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  53. ^ Kilday, Gregg (29 November 2016). "Satellite Awards Nominees Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  54. ^ ""The Salesman" wins Best Film Award in Spain". Mehr News Agency. 31 October 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  55. ^ "Maudie Wins Coveted VIFF Super Channel People's Choice Award" (Press release). Greater Vancouver International Film Festival Society. 14 October 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  56. ^ "The 2016 WAFCA Awards Nominations". Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. 3 December 2016. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  57. ^ "Taraneh Alidoosti boycotts the Oscars to protest Trump's Muslim visa ban". The Independent. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  58. ^ "Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi Won't Attend Oscar Ceremony". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  59. ^ "George Miller backs Asghar Farhadi's Oscars boycott". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  60. ^ "UK film-makers to use Iranian director's movie in anti-Trump protest". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  61. ^ "Hollywood chooses protests over parties as the stars get ready for Oscars activism". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  62. ^ "La La Land wins award as directors criticise Trump travel ban". BBC. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  63. ^ "Hollywood chooses protests over parties as the stars get ready for Oscars activism". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  64. ^ "Asghar Farhadi to Be Represented at Oscars by First Female Space Tourist and Former NASA Scientist". Variety. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  65. ^ "Oscars: Iranian winner Asghar Farhadi blasts Trump travel ban". BBC. Retrieved 27 February 2017.

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