“About Elly” is the kind of ensemble film that recalls Robert Altman (“Pret a Porter,” “Gosford Park”) or an early Kenneth Branagh (“Peter’s Friends”). A group of characters come together on screen, casual conversation is tossed about, relationships are forged or renewed or become strained — and with each incident, personalities and agendas are revealed like invisible ink on onion-skin paper.

The surprise is that “About Elly” is an Iranian film, one of the very few to make it to the international film circuit without the cachet (and/or baggage) of an overt political message. This is intelligent, sensitive filmmaking, and director Asghar Farhadi (“Fireworks Wednesday”) keeps the intricacies personal until the last frame, avoiding the temptation to go the route of social criticism.

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