On paper this film about a couple going through marriage counselling conjures up all sorts of cliched Hollywood horrors bit in reality what you get is a nicely observed, beautifully acted, tender and warm film.
Meryl Streep is on fine, fine form as Kay who wants to save a marriage that isn't on the rocks so much but has meandered down the path of routine and co-existence. Her and husband Arnold - Tommy Lee Jones who also puts in a stunningly understated performance - take each other for granted and over the years the romance and passion has ebbed away to the point where they have separate beds and barely touch each other.
Kay persuades, sort of, Arnold to visit marriage counsellor Dr Feld (Steve Carrell who refreshingly plays the role straight).
There are no scandalous revelations, the sensations of this film are the gamut and complexity of human emotions, how a couple can as one be so content and easy in each others company and yet so physically and emotionally shy when it comes to affection and sex.
Yes there are some funny moments but it doesn't go for the obvious laughs. A lovely film I am going to give it 79%. On IMDb it has 67% and a Metascore of 65% while on Rotten Tomatoes it has 74% and 66% of site visitors have given it three and a half stars or higher.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won best foreign film at the Oscars for A Separation and About Elly was actually made before that but has only just been released - presumably the Oscar success helped.
I loved A Separation and About Elly is another interesting, engaging and competent piece of film making. Elly is more of a mystery flick to A Separation's domestic drama although it has a domestic setting.
Elly of the title is a teaching assistant and has been invited by the mother of one of her pupils to join her and some friends and family on a weekend away.
When Elly disappears the guests search for answers as to her whereabout and just who she actually was. To say any more would give away the plot so I'll just add that the story slowly unfolds with an intriguing series of revelations, twists and turns. Probably best described as a human mystery rather than a mystery of the thriller variety what gives it heart and depth is the ordinariness of the people involved.
And it is refreshing, like A Separation, to see a film depicting that ordinariness and serves as a reminder of the tarred and stereotyped view we, as Westerners, have of Iran - there isn't a burkha or extremist in site.
I'm going to give it 75%. On IMDb it has 80% and no Metacritic score while on Rotten Tomatoes it doesn't have a consensus from critics but 86% of site visitors gave it three and a half stars or higher