Let's gets this out in the clear. If you don't like slow moving, straight up dramas in a foreign tongue then you probably won't like The Past. Ok, I've warned you.
The Past tells the tale of an estranged husband, actor Ali Mosaffa, who returns from Tehran to sign divorce papers with his wife, played by the beautiful Bérénice Bejo (The Artist). There, he runs into a whole host of problems that clearly and unapologetically show that the family has issues. I won't go into much detail, because I would like to remain spoiler free, but let's just say he meets another man who is difficult to deal with. Not only that, but just about every character in The Past is difficult to deal with, and Director Asghar Fahadi is not afraid to show it. This, in and of itself, is what the picture strives to show: a broken family and the drama that ensues from what inevitably comes from their history. As much as these characters want to move on, get a fresh start, it is the mysterious past that is inevitably calling them to discomfort and pain.
With all of this, the film does run borderline soap opera, but no soap opera was ever acted this well (none I've ever caught glimpse of anyways). The characters and their situation kept me engrossed the entire movie. Every scene, to every line, to every facial expression felt it was important to the entire film as a whole. It's the little things, such as using the opening and shutting of glass to convey barriers and lack of communication/connection in a relationship. In the end, does all of this really matter? That is up for you to decide; which of course can make this film entirely too frustrating.
That being said, is The Past a well made movie that achieved what it was aiming for? I would say most definitely.
My personal preference: 3.5/5 stars
How well it was made: 4.5/5 stars
(You can find said picture at your local Redbox)