519. Close-Up

Documentaries aren’t always my cup of tea, but then, there aren’t many documentaries like Abbas Kiarostami’s CLOSE-UP. Combining real events and fiction, the film chronicles the trial of Hossain Sabzian, who has been charged with impersonating the popular director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. But why? The family that invites him into their home, thinking they will star in his next film, assumes he intended to rob them. Yet it soon becomes clear that the reasons for his deception are much more complex, and speak to themes of identity, creativity, self-worth, and the transcendent power of film. At one point, I found myself identifying so strongly with Sabzian, that I had to step back and make sure I wasn’t projecting my own motives. The most fascinating scenes are when the film’s subjects actually reenact their own events, adding another layer of cinematic distance that somehow manages to reveal more truth. Moving and engrossing, I really can’t recommend it enough.