Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Close Up

Abbas Kiarostami's Close-up (1990) is the real life story of a poor and unemployed Iranian man named Sabzian who is infatuated with the world of film. One day, while riding the bus, an older woman (Mrs Ahankhah) sitting next to him notices that he is holding a book on film script in his hand. The script is of 'The Cyclist' by the renowned director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. The woman, too, is a lover of cinema. In fact, her whole family is. The woman and Sabzian start talking about the script . Rather than tell Mrs Ahankhah where he purchased the book, he claims that he is the author. The fellow has an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Makhmalbaf himself. He pretends to be Makhmalbaf--because he does look like Makhmalbaf and, more importantly, he feels like Makhmalbaf.
What follows is the story of how the character insinuates himself into a middle-class family's life over a period of time, even holding acting lessons with them and having ongoing discussions on cinema, until they slowly start to realize he is an impostor and call the police. We the audience catch up to him and to the family after the fact. Our antihero has already done his time in jail, where Mr. Kiarostami first interviewed him. The director then proceeds to reenact the affair from its beginning to end.
No professional actors are involved. Each person--the main character, the family members, the newspaper reporter who originally broke the story, the policemen who were sent from the local police station to pick up the pretender--plays himself or herself. The story and the views of both Sabzian and Ahankhah family member is told in flashback. I really liked the natural face of Sabzian. Almost all the scenes are unforgettable. some of the noteworthy scenes are :
**The scene where Sabzian is travelling in the bus and when the old woman asks him why a director of his stature must use public transportation, leaving Sabzian (alias Makhmalbaf) to explain that he is trying to get new ideas for his new film.
** The scene in the end when Sabzian's lie is caught and is forced to patiently wait for the arrival of Mr. Farazmad (News Reporter) and a pair of police officers. He sits there and looks through the window and see that the reporter and the police is comming to catch him. Sabzian fully expects his moment of capture.
** Another scene is where the taxi driver is waiting outside the house of Ahankhah for the reporter and the police to arrest and bring Sabzian. While waiting the taxi driver picks up some flowers from the roadside and there is a discarded empty tin lying beside. He kicks that tin and it rolls over the road making a sound. I somehow liked the shot with the tin rolling over the empty road and the fading away of the sound. Brilliant!!
** Another noteworth scene is the falling of tearful Sabzian into the arms of Makhmalbaf after the trial. Makhmalbaf asks, "Do you prefer being Makhmalbaf or Sabzian?" Sabzian replies, "I'm tired of being me." Makhmalbaf's encounter with Sabzian is recorded with faulty audio equipment. Sabzian sits on the back of Makhmalbaf's motorbike and both ride to the Ahankhah's house. The conversation between them cuts in and out.


Blogger PI said...

Sounds likre an interesting film

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a great blog. Not one of those stupid ones with endless ramblings of ordinary lives. Bon chance

10:37 PM  

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