Movies Like Beyond the Hills (2012)

Staff & contributors

Chasing the feel of watching Beyond the Hills ? Here are the movies we recommend you watch right after.

In modern day Europe, demonic possession seems to be a thing of the past, something most likely to be attributed to mental illness, and something that can be dealt with through modern medicine, not exorcism. Still, exorcisms are conducted in certain areas in the continent, and some instances don’t go the way they should. Inspired on the real life Tanacu exorcism, Beyond the Hills doesn’t depict the event through a horror or melodramatic lens– instead the film is stoic, naturalistic, with long single takes that linger uncomfortably and repetitively. As Alina pleads to Voichița to help her, to choose her and their bond, Voichița grapples with wanting the modern yet isolating freedom she knows Alina has found elsewhere, while still wanting the refuge religious tradition has granted her, but also has made her dependent on. It does take a while to reach its conclusion, but Beyond the Hills is a deeply unsettling and striking movie to watch.

Not one but two Oscars as well as a Golden Globe are among this movie’s never-ending list of accolades. It was the first Iranian film ever to get an Oscar and the first non-English film ever nominated for Best Screenplay. Originally titled The Separation of Nader from Simin in Persian, it homes in on the dissolving relationship of a middle-class couple from Teheran – and the unintended consequences of tragic events.

However, this film is so intense, well-acted, and well-written, it defies categorization. To be sure, the movie does offer a painful look at a deteriorating marriage. It’s also timely, dealing with the politics of theocracy, economic underdevelopment, and social alienation. It presents tense moral dilemmas without pointing a finger. If you’re curious to learn about the humans of Iran and, by cultural extension, the humans of the Middle East beyond the scope of global politics, A Separation is also for you.

But please don’t call it world cinema, because this is no Slumdog Millionaire. Above all, it is a searing portrayal of human conflict, relationships, and morals. It is an almost perfect depiction of how many bad people are simply good people running out of options.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Ali-Asghar Shahbazi, Babak Karimi, Bahareh Riahi, Kimia Hosseini, Leila Hatami, Merila Zare'i, Payman Maadi, Peyman Maadi, Peyman Moaadi, Sahabanu Zolghadr, Sare Bayat, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Shahab Hosseini, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh

Director: Asghar Farhadi

Rating: PG-13