A huge pleasure in watching Asghar Farhadi’s films is vicariously experiencing life in middle-class, present day Tehran. His characters are never less than fully fleshed out people with complex needs and motivations that are slowly and often only partially exposed. He does this with both his more secular characters as well as those who strictly observe and adhere to the constraints of Iran’s theocracy. Farhadi also masterfully teases the edges of fracturing relationships without a hint of sentimentality but without any cruelty either.
He reveals key information sparingly but clearly enough to keep us with him and his characters. Near the beginning of “Fireworks Wednesday” we walk into the wrecked apartment of a warring couple behind the chador-shrouded figure of Rouhi and share her confusion at the furniture covered with drop cloths and a broken window. Young Rouhi is engaged to marry her beloved fiancé but needs money for the wedding and finds herself in the middle of an unexplained war zone between the married couple for whom she is working. Coming from a well-ordered conservative background, Rouhi is completely baffled.
The movie takes place during Red Wednesday, the traditional Persian New Year celebration, which is filled with fireworks going off all day and into the night as well as bonfires and a crackling, unsettled energy that mirrors the unfolding events in the messy apartment. Even so, Farhadi never stoops to predictable outcomes and lets his audience decide for themselves who deserves to be believed.
In the course of a day and evening, Rouhi finds herself running interference between the antagonists, telling lies to this party and that, only to realize that her employers are taking advantage of her compliance while otherwise ignoring her. “Fireworks Wednesday” is brilliantly filmed, written, and acted and enormously uncomfortable to watch. So be sure to see it.