Thursday, 25 March 2010


Close-Up by Abbas Kiarostami is another film that is sitting in my DVD collection back in Australia that I kept meaning to watch but never seemed to get around to it. For shame. And so now, when I have a perfectly good, possibly unopened copy in Australia, I'm paying to hire it out here in London. Well done me. 

Close-Up was arguably the Iranian filmmaker's break-through into the Western world. Active throughout the Iranian New Wave beginning in the 1970s, following this film he went on to success with the likes of Taste Of Cherry and Through The Olive Trees, recently putting out Shirin.

Utilising Kiarostami's documentary style, Close-Up tells the story of a man, Hossein Sabzian, who befriends a wealthy family and convinces them that he is the renowned director Mohsan Makhmalbaf. Saying he wants to use their house as a location and possibly use their son as an actor, the ruse is kept up for a few days before the family patriarch decides that he isn't the real Makhmalbaf. A journalist gets wind of the story and the fact that the police are on their way to arrest the con-man, with the film being told in flashback through the trial of Hossein, being filmed and questioned by Kiarostami.

Close-Up really feels like a documentary. All of the people involved are playing themselves (well, except when Sabzian is pretending to be Mokhmalbaf, but then he's pretending to be himself pretending to be Mokhmalbaf, so...), and Kiarostami's appearance as the documenter aids the conviction. A rough film set in the suburbs, Kiarostami keeps it simple and engaging with some striking visuals and snappy dialogue. As a non-political glimpse inside Iranian society immediately after their Iraq war, it is fascinating. 

A beautiful teaser into the work of Kiarostami, who is one of those directors that I've heard about all of my life and never brought myself around to seeing his work, I'm glad the introduction has been made and look forward to filling in my knowledge of his canon. 4 stars.

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