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Thursday Night Movies: “Close-Up” (1990)

Published: March 31, 2024; Author: Julia Sonrisa

 April 4, 2024    06:00 PM-08:00 PM EDT

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Thursday Night Movies: “Close-Up” (1990)

Abbas Kiarostami’s “Close-Up” is a mesmerizing masterpiece that defies easy categorization. It seamlessly blends documentary and fiction, blurring the lines between reality and illusion, and raising profound questions about identity, art, and the power of cinema.

The film centers around the real-life story of Hossain Sabzian, a man who impersonated the renowned Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Sabzian ingratiated himself with a family by claiming to be Makhmalbaf and promising them roles in his next film. “Close-Up” follows the aftermath of this deception, with Sabzian’s arrest, trial, and eventual release.

However, Kiarostami’s approach is far from a straightforward documentary. He incorporates elements of re-enactment, blurring the lines between what is real and what is staged. He even involves the actual participants in the events, including Sabzian, the family he deceived, and the journalist who broke the story.

This unique approach creates a multi-layered and thought-provoking experience. The film becomes a meditation on the nature of truth and the elusiveness of identity. Sabzian’s motivations for impersonating Makhmalbaf are complex, driven by a passion for cinema and a desire to escape his difficult circumstances. The family, initially drawn to the promise of fame and fortune, grapples with the betrayal and the realization that their dreams were built on a lie.

“Close-Up” also explores the transformative power of cinema. Sabzian, through his act of impersonation, attempts to step into the shoes of a filmmaker and create his reality. The film itself, by blurring the lines between documentary and fiction, becomes a testament to the ability of cinema to shape and reshape our perceptions of the world.

Ultimately, “Close-Up” is a deeply humane and compassionate film. Kiarostami avoids passing judgment on Sabzian, instead presenting him as a complex individual driven by a mixture of desperation and artistic yearning. The film invites us to consider the complexities of human behavior and the power of dreams, even when they lead us down unexpected paths.

Time: 6:00-8:00 pm EST


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