About Elly

About Elly

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Asghar Farhadi
Produced by Asghar Farhadi
Written by Asghar Farhadi (screenplay)
Azad Jafarian (thanks to)
Starring Golshifteh Farahani
Taraneh Alidoosti
Shahab Hosseini
Mani Haghighi
Merila Zarei
Peyman Moaadi
Ahmad Mehranfar
Rana Azadivar
Saber Abar
Cinematography Hossein Jafarian
Edited by Hayedeh Safiyari
Distributed by Dreamlab Films (international)
Axiom Films (UK and Ireland)
Release dates
  • June 6, 2009 (2009-06-06)
Running time
119 minutes
Country Iran
Language Persian
Budget $1،350،000
Box office $7,000,000[1]

About Elly (Persian: درباره الی, translit. Darbāreye Elly) is a 2009 Iranian psychological drama[2] film directed by Asghar Farhadi. It is the fourth film by Farhadi. The film is about the relationships between some middle class families in Iran.

Farhadi won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival for the film. The film was also nominated for 10 awards at the 27th Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran where Farhadi won the Crystal Simorgh for best directing. About Elly was Iran's official submission for the competition in the Foreign Film section at the 82nd Academy Awards.


A group of middle-class Iranian friends travels to the shores of the Caspian Sea on a three-day vacation. They are former classmates at the law faculty of the university. There are three couples: Sepideh and her husband Amir, who have a young daughter; Shohreh and her husband Peymān, who have two young children, including a son, Arash; and Nāzy and her husband Manuchehr. The trip is planned by Sepideh, who brings along her daughter's kindergarten teacher, Elly, in order to introduce her to Ahmad, a divorced friend, visiting from Germany.

They all go to a seaside mansion that Sepideh has booked, but the woman in charge tells them that the owners are due to return the next day, so they won't be able to stay there after all. She suggests that they stay in a deserted beach-front villa instead. There would be no cellphone reception there and they would have to go to the old woman's house in order to make calls. Sepideh lies to the old woman about the relationship between Elly and Ahmad: she says they're married and are there for their honeymoon (referencing legal restrictions on unmarried couples traveling together in Iran).

Elly is a little shy, but she begins to feel attracted to Ahmad, who also seems to have feelings for Elly. While on the trip she calls her mother and lies to her, saying that she's with her co-workers at a sea-side resort and that she wishes to go back to Tehran the following day, as planned. Sepideh, however, doesn't want her to leave and hides her luggage. One of the mothers asks Elly to watch the children playing in the sea. Later, Arash is found floating in the sea and Elly is nowhere to be seen. Arash is resuscitated, but the group doesn't know whether Elly has drowned or has just left for Tehran. The police are called to investigate, while the group continues to search for Elly. The members of the group soon start to blame each other for the series of events leading up to her disappearance and her initial coming on the trip. However, things are not as they seem, as it turns out that Sepideh has been lying about certain facts concerning Elly.[3]




The film was hailed critically upon the release in its home country. One year after its release, it was voted the 4th greatest Iranian movie of all time by the national society of Iranian critics.[4] The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 99% approval rating with an average rating of 8.2/10 based on 68 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "About Elly offers viewers performances as powerful as its thought-provoking ideas, and adds another strong entry to Asghar Farhadi's impressive filmography."[5] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 87 out of 100 based on 28 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."[6]

One of the strongest supporters of About Elly is David Bordwell, film theorist and film critic, who has called it a masterpiece: "Gripping as sheer storytelling, the plot smoothly raises some unusual moral questions. It touches on masculine honor, on the way a thoughtless laugh can wound someone’s feelings, on the extent to which we try to take charge of others’ fates. I can’t recall another film that so deeply examines the risks of telling lies to spare someone grief. But no more talk: The less you know in advance, the better. About Elly deserves worldwide distribution pronto."[7]

Alissa Simon of Variety wrote in her review: "To many, the film’s first half may seem mannered, even boring, with the old pals, particularly the men, indulging in obnoxious, condescending behavior. But after an alarming incident at the 45-minute mark, Farhadi ratchets up the tension, and the pic becomes a mystery thriller of sorts that epitomizes the Sir Walter Scott quote, Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."[8]

Adam Eisenberg in his review from Tribeca Film Festival called About Elly: "a mirror of sorts to Michelangelo Antonioni’s stylistic revolution, L'Avventura." And wrote: "Here the contrast between Farhadi and Antonioni is perhaps sharpest. Although L'Avventura is certainly cinematic with its relationship between images and themes, ... In Farhadi’s world, cold glances, a husband’s demand for more tea, and tearful rage, are all comments, not symbols, on a culture where telling the truth is often not the best option. It’s a culture that lends itself to suspense, and Farhadi might have more in common with Hitchcock, than the Iranian New Wave he emerges from."[9]

Also Christopher Bourne after seeing the film at Tribeca Film Festival said: "The brilliance of Farhadi’s script and direction (his efforts earned him the Silver Bear for best director at this year’s Berlin Film Festival) becomes most apparent in the latter stages of the film. As one secret after another is revealed, Farhadi deftly maps out the shifts in the perceptions and behavior of the characters toward each other as well as the viewer’s perception of the characters."[10]

Lee Marshall of Screen Daily called the film "One of the most remarkable Iranian films to surface in the last few years" and added: "About Elly is a small but compelling ensemble piece of surprising depth. It’s one of those rare films that can be read on one level purely as a satisfying drama, but which also has a rich, independent inner life, centered on big questions about right and wrong, social coercion and the lies people tell themselves and each other."[11]



  1. «علي سرتيپي» در گفت‌وگو با فارس: فروش تهران «درباره الي» هم ميلياردي شد
  2. Bradshaw, Peter (September 13, 2012). "About Elly – review". The Guardian. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  3. About Elly Review - The Guardian
  4. Brady, Tara (September 14, 2012). "About Elly". The Irish Times. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  5. "About Elly (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  6. "About Elly Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  7. "Observations on film art: A masterpiece, and others not to be neglected". DavidBordwell.net. March 30, 2009. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  8. Simon, Alissa (February 7, 2009). "Review: 'About Elly'". Variety. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  9. Eisenberg, Adam (April 27, 2009). "Tribeca Review: About Elly Brings the Iranian Middle Class Center Stage". Flavorwire. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  10. Bourne, Christopher (April 26, 2009). "Asghar Farhadi's "About Elly" – 2009 Tribeca Film Festival Review". Meniscus. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  11. Marshall, Lee (February 7, 2009). "About Elly (Darbareye Elly)". Screen International. Retrieved September 4, 2015. (subscription required)
  12. "Peru film wins Berlin Golden Bear". BBC News. February 14, 2009. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  13. "Curtain comes down on Fajr filmfest with wins for "Hesitation", "About Elly"". Mehr News Agency. February 11, 2009. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  14. "About Elly Wins Another Award". Iran Review. December 20, 2009. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  15. Cinema Guild

External links

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