A tale of two families linked by tragedy, this extraordinary drama by Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi (Fireworks Wednesday
) is hugely compelling on a moral and emotional level, yet it also reveals in numerous small and concrete ways what it's like to live in a contemporary theocracy. Denied a divorce by a hard-line judge, an unhappy wife moves out on her husband, their 11-year-old daughter, and the husband's elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. A woman is hired to watch over the old man but proves negligent, and the splintered family is pulled into a heated court case involving the caretaker and her spouse, a hot-tempered fundamentalist. Farhadi paces all this beautifully, allowing the legal mess to fester and in the process test the compassion, honesty, and loyalty of nearly everyone involved. In Persian with subtitles.