Although The Past is set in France instead of his native Iran, writer-director Asghar Farhadi's follow-up to his 2011 film A Separation deals with many of the same themes, most notably the seismic ripple effects of a dissolved marriage. The Past is an even slower starter and maintains a lower flame than A Separation, and the film is so unfocused on narrative immediacy that it evolves into an existential mystery before the viewer even comprehends it. Therefore, the impact of The Past may not be immediate as with its predecessor, but it could prove to have the longer emotional reach. Something chains each one of Farhadi's characters to a past they regret but can never reclaim, even as they appeal to bureaucratic systems to redefine their existences. It all develops into a moral whodunit, with everyone obsessively circling around a tragic event that Farhadi never shows us.