As I noted when reviewing Asghar Farhadi’s “About Elly,” the release of the director’s prior films after his latest work achieves such success proves disorienting. I usually seek out the past filmography of a major filmmaker before seeing their new releases. After all, if one assumes that directors always sharpen and hone their craft over time, why watch those skills digress?
“Fireworks Wednesday” arrived in America about a decade after its initial release, a period in which Farhadi directed four additional films and won an Oscar. For the uninitiated, like myself, the writer/director’s masterful command of human behavior in “A Separation” seemed effortless. This 2006 feature shows that Farhadi did not reach those heights without some hard work and gradual yet significant improvements. (Encouraging for those of us who feel on the cusp of greatness!)
That’s not to say “Fireworks Wednesday” is belabored or undercooked – and certainly not bad by any stretch of the imagination. Farhadi sets up a complex plot involving three Iranian women around the time of the Persian New Year. Soon-to-be-bride Rouhi tries to grab some extra cash for the wedding in Tehran by doing odd jobs, yet one housekeeping job finds her in the middle of a collapsing marriage and burgeoning affair. The jealous wife, the lecherous other woman and their unsuspecting middlewoman find themselves caught in a death spiral of deceit. When the dust settles, the film retains about a layer less of depth than Farhadi’s “The Past,” though that’s still plenty to work with for a compelling human drama. B /