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Close-Up


Close-up (1990) - 8


Hossain Sabzian is a poor man indistinguishable from any other individual crossing the same streets he crosses, but he is a cinema lover. In a twist of fate he is approached by lady Ahankhah, on a bus, regarding the book he holds in his hands, The Cyclist, and Sabzian tells her that he is the author of the novel and of the movie of the same name. And so began the whimsical artifice that led this man to assume the identity of his idolized filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf and to make the house of the Ahankhah family his chosen pseudo-shooting location for a few weeks. Eventually his deceptive agenda is discovered, Sabzian is arrested by the authorities and in the following trial he has to justify his actions to the Ahankhah family and the judge. By staging and monitoring in real time this weird story with the real people involved, Abbas Kiarostami proposes us a reflection on the distinction between reality and fiction, between the true identity of a person and the mere representation of a role.

It's not easy to understand how striking this film really is without seeing it with our own eyes, there's no actors here, all the people we see are the real people involved in the staged (and non-staged) case, they represent themselves. The barrier that separates reality from fiction is smeared to the limit and while watching Close-up, one has the feeling of witnessing the real events as they happen which endows this work with another vitality of persuasion and expression. The lengthy trial is particularly striking to watch because that's real, not staged, and the way that Kiarostami outlines Sabzian argumentation to make his own message come across to us is brilliant. Given its legal and argumentative mechanics, the judgment scene evokes a reflection on the legitimacy and meaning, not only about what Sabzian made​​, but also about the role of art in people's lives.

Close-up is a fine example of what's called Docufiction, maybe the best I've ever seen because watching the film for the first time without the least idea of what it is, I was so engrossed in its ruse that in the end I was asking myself, perplexed, if what I just saw was real or not. This is one of those films that haunt me long days after the screening as much for its cinematographic cunning as for what it makes me think. In addition to the reflection it compels, this intelligent work from Kiarostami also shows that Cinema, ironically or not, can turn dreams into reality, or on the contrary, turn reality into a dream or a film when looked from another perspective. Despite the conceptual genius, Close-up is no eye candy, no significant aesthetical appeal to redeem itself, it is worth for the accomplishment as a docufiction experience. I appreciate the concept and I admire and respect this work for that, I think this is a reference work. I think Close-up is mandatory watch for any cinephile!