#89. Close-Up (1990)
Directed by: Abbas Kiarostami
Written by: Abbas Kiarostami
Starring: Hossain Sabzian, Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Legendary Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami passed away in July of this past year, leaving behind decades of incredible filmmaking. Kiarostami and his contemporaries helped usher in a new wave of Iranian films through the 80’s and 90’s with films like 1990’s Close-Up – a masterwork that blends truth and fiction into something indescribable. Close-Up is about the true story of a man (Hossain Sabzian) who impersonated successful Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, convincing an unknowing family that they would be cast in his latest film. Every major player in the story plays themselves, recreating the events that took place. We see Sabzian meet with the family members as Makhmalbaf, his eventual downfall, and later his subsequent arrest and trial. It is when Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf themselves come into the picture that makes the audience realize what a stroke of genius Close-Up is. The naturalistic performances never feel like the reenactments that they are, furthering blending truth and fiction into something much more messy. Kiarostami guides the audience through the film with a deft hand, letting us uncover the brilliance of Close-up for ourselves, and slowly peeling back layer upon layer of this complex and engaging tale. Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up is an incredibly rewarding experience that I think back on fondly, and often. Not only is it a modern masterpiece of meta filmmaking, but it also serves as an excellent introduction to the wonders of Iranian cinema. Do not miss your chance to see Close-Up, it truly is a remarkable experience.