Close-Up (Kiarostami, 1990)

The protagonists of Abbas Kiarostami’s films are in constant motion, both physically and emotionally. In Life, and Nothing More…, A Taste of Cherry, and Ten, Kiarostami’s subjects spend almost every scene in an automobile, providing a solitary form of transit deeply rooted in their own mental framework.

In Close-Up, once again Kiarostami begins his story with a car ride, a reporter and two soldiers en-route to arrest a man posing as the famous Iranian director Moshen Maklmalbaf. The suspect has been accused of defrauding an upper class family into believing he will shoot his next film centered around them. But that’s where the central motifs of those others films become complicated. While deeply concerned with themes of transition, Close-Up differs greatly in style because it’s based on an actual event, and it uses real life trial footage as well as composed reconstructions, using the actual participants as actors in a constructed reality.

Cinematic motion, or story moving at a certain related speed to style, comes crashing down as we piece together more of this man’s reasoning for claiming to be an artist. His uncertainty mirrors Kiarostami’s critique of his own “autuer” tendencies, attempting to control every facet of a medium that often misrepresents it’s subjects. Reality, or the breaking down of realism into a conflicted process, seeps into the foreground. Where most of his other works tend to drift back and forth between the magical and the humane, Close-Up looks unflinchingly at doubt within a structured form of film documentation.

Kiarostami continues to develop with his obsessions of movement, hidden pains, doubtful reconciliations, all bleeding together into a personal need to search…for humanity, for art, for fear, and for peace. His cinema rages against simplistic notions of class, often having the poor attempt to understand and reach out to the rich, or the rich show humility and forgiveness to the poor. Time cannot be counted on to reveal the truths in life. Only experience outside the limitation of stereotype can open the doorway to understanding. Kiarostami’s films, especially Close-Up, generously consider how truth and reality often differ. The movies, as for the subject of Close-Up, offer an answer to the contradictions of real life, with the high hopes of finding a way to reveal the truths of varying perspectives.

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