Close-Up (1999) - Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami is the story of Ali Sabzian, a poor man who on a whim, claims to be the famous Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf to a fellow passenger on the bus. What is innocent enough in the beginning becomes much more convoluted when the passenger introduces Sabzian to her family. Falling further down the rabbit hole, Sabzian falls victim to the respect he is receiving by those who think he is Mohsen Makhmalbaf, even telling the family that he intends to use their home in his next film. Eventually the family becomes aware of Ali's deceit, taking him to court for fraud. Abbas Kiarostami's Close-Up is a fascinating blend of documentary and drama that effectively reminds the viewer that many crimes and deceits are not as black and white as we make them out to be. Filming the proceedings of the trial, Close-Up gives one of the most pensive looks into a man accused of a crime, peering into his soul and discovering a good-hearted man whose sadness and suffering has led him down this path. It becomes clear that Ali is not a man who intended on taking advantage of the family, but a tender, broken down man who fell victim to his own desires to have his life feel meaningful, longing to feel important in the face of this wealthy family. The ending of the film is one of the most sweet, tender, and touching sequences I've seen in a while, personifying the importance of second chances and exposing the tender soul of a man in Ali. Abbas Kiarostami's Close-Up is a layered film that touches on many aspects of society from economic class to the power of art, using this man's personal story to create a powerful portrait of society as a whole, doing so in a completely organic way.
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