Director Asghar Farhadi won an Academy Award in 2012 for his film A Separation. The Salesman, like its predecessor, is a family drama entwined with a criminal act. Although Toni Erdmann is the favorite in this category, The Salesman has gained extra support since director Farhadi and actress Taraneh Alidoosti announced that they would refuse to attend the Oscars celebrations as a protest against President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
Emad, a high school literature teacher, and his wife, Rana, have to flee their home in Tehran when nearby construction causes extensive damage to the building in which they live. Emad and Rana are also semi-professional actors currently performing as Willy and Linda Loman in a censored version of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” One of their theater colleagues finds them a flat in a building he manages. Unbeknownst to them, the previous tenant was a prostitute. One evening, Rana, home alone, hears the buzzer downstairs and, assuming it is Emad, whom she is expecting, buzzes open the door and steps into the shower. There she is violently assaulted by the intruder and then hospitalized.
Traumatized, Rana vacillates between wanting to be alone and not wanting Emad to leave her alone. The tension between them and with the colleague who found the flat for them spills onto the stage.
Meanwhile, Emad becomes obsessed with tracking down the perpetrator of the assault on his wife after she talks him out of going to the police. Eventually, Emad does identity the attacker (in an outstanding performance by Babak Karimi) and traps him. Should he and Rana exact revenge or extend forgiveness?