Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I'm a newcomer to Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami's work, but this film seduced me completely. An English author (William Shimmel) comes to Italy to give a lecture about his newest book, an essay on the value of copies over original works of art, and takes a day-long drive into the countryside of Lucignano with a somewhat frazzled French guide (Juliette Binoche), filled with deep, diverting conversation about life, art and relationships. At one point in the dialogue, their relationship suddenly changes and the viewer is left to evaluate who they really are to one another and why so many of us base our relationships on others, forging a copy, rather than being true to the original chemistry we form with another person. That neither character is particularly revealing or likeable somehow makes the whole even more stimulating. This is that rare contemporary film which has the boldness I associate with early 1960s European cinema; it breaks new narrative ground and plays some tricks too original to likely be repeated. An invigorating surprise.

Viewed via Criterion Blu-ray, which includes a welcome selection of extras, including a nearly hour-long making-of documentary. Also available on DVD and as an Amazon Instant Video.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful film; completely agree that it packs the kind of conceptual wallop reminiscent of the heyday of art cinema - the pivotal scene in the rural restaurant is a lovely off-balancing moment. Some of Kiarostami's other work I would recommended includes TASTE OF CHERRY, CLOSE-UP and TEN. Venturing further afield into Iranian cinema, the films of Jafar Panahi (now outrageously under house arrest and forbidden to make films) are well worth a look - CRIMSON GOLD in particular is astonishing.