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Hedayat Matin Daftari
The Traveler (Abbas Kiarostami, 1974) Filmspotting had a positive review of the Kiarostami film Close-Up, so I thought I'd give it a go as my knowledge of Iranian films is very slight. When I got it via Netflix, I discovered there was a separate feature on the DVD (I love when that happens!) so on a whim I tried the extra out first.
The Traveler is good enough to have warranted its own DVD release, although I'm glad it was included on Close-Up. Kiarostami later referred to it as his first picture, and it's about as good a one as I've seen (short of something like Citizen Kane maybe). The main character is a young boy who will do whatever it takes (including steal and scam) to be able to afford to go to a soccer match in Tehran. I couldn't help but laugh at some of the stunts he pulled, even knowing that if he was my kid I'd have been appalled.
The director manages in The Traveler to make the boy a sympathetic character even after you see what he does: for all his questionable behavior (and who at that age doesn't exhibit questionable behavior at some point?) I relate to his loneliness and sadness, and even some of his obsessiveness in pursuing what he wants. The film reminds me of The 400 Blows (as I'm sure it's supposed to) but in some ways it is actually more successful than that Truffaut film in balancing humor with pathos. The final five minutes in particular are terrific.
If this is considered a minor work by Kiarostami, then he could well be added to my list of favorite directors soon. 8/10
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