Pretending to be Mohsen Makhmalbaf making his next movie, Hossain Sabzian enters the home of a well-to-do family in Tehran, promising it a prominent part in his next movie. The actual ... See full summary »
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Sylvie Van den Elsen,
The plot couldn't be simpler or its attack on capital punishment (and the act of killing in general) more direct - a senseless, violent, almost botched murder is followed by a cold, ... See full summary »
Pretending to be Mohsen Makhmalbaf making his next movie, Hossain Sabzian enters the home of a well-to-do family in Tehran, promising it a prominent part in his next movie. The actual people involved in the incident re-enact the actual events, followed by the footage from the actual trial that took place. Written by
Sam Tabibnia <email@example.com>
Not the usual Kiarostami movie, this is a half documentary, half reenactment by the actual people who were involved! That alone makes it a very unique movie.
While the story was unfolding, Kiarostami found out about it through a magazine article and as luck would have it, he was all geared up to make a movie (Pocket Money) but he decided to talk the executive producer into making this movie! It's shot in 40 days and all the events that happen after Kiarostami started to make the movie are a documentary, and all the events that had happened before are reenacted by the original people after the fact.
The movie works much better if one is familiar with Iranian cinema and particularly with Kiarostami and Makhmalbaaf (an equally famous, some would even say "the other" Iranian director who is not just the subject of this film but also appears in it as himself!) The documentary also gives a rare look inside the typical post revolution Iranian court system. Much of what people know about the Iranian judicial system has to do with high profile political cases which are very different than the overwhelming majority of cases that are about everyday legal problems that would typically not make the international news! In fact, when Kiarostami is trying to get the judge's permission to film the court room events, the judge tries to convince him to pick another trial, something more interesting!something having to do with a much bigger crime! Kiarostami has to explain to the judge that it is this particular case (having to do with Makhmalbaaf and cinema) that he's interested in! During the actual court proceedings, Kiarostami, with the judge's approving smiles, occasionally interjects and asks for more details and explanations! And some of the finest parts of the movie are the exchanges that take place during the trial between Kiarostami and the accused. When the accused mentions that he has finally realized that he is the "traveler" (a 1974 Kiarostami movie) Kiarostami is somewhat caught off guard! Many have suggested that the movie is a profound statement about the loss and the subsequent search for identity by an entire nation after a revolution. To his credit, in an interview recorded much later, Kiarostami claimed that although he agrees with that interpretation, he wasn't aware of it while he was making the movie! It is unusual for a director to pass up an interpretation like that as not having been part of his original vision! artistic integrity like that is truly a rarity, but then again, that's what makes Kiarostami the unique director that he is and why Kirosawa considered him the finest at his craft! In short, not your usual Kiarostami movie, yet for my money, an absolute treat. Here's a movie that engages the audience completely without a single car chase, without a single shot being fired, no aliens, no UFOs, no bad guys, no good guys, and it goes without saying that no one falls in love, let alone sex and cheating and the rest of what makes up 95% of the movies today! Yet, without using any of these standard tricks of the trade, Kiarostami keeps his audience glued to the screen from the first to the very last frame! At the end, I tend to agree with the great Kirosawa. Kiarostami has come pretty close to perfecting his craft!
30 of 39 people found this review helpful.
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