1987, Movies

Khane-ye doust kodjast? (1987, Abbas Kiarostami)

This is a simple film about a child trying to give his friend his notebook. It is so very far from the Hollywood films of its era, as you might imagine an Iranian neo-realist film is.

So I accidentally watched this film’s sort of sequel first, but fortunately it isn’t really a sequel and it had no affect on how I experienced this movie. So that’s good.

Kiarostami achieves something rather remarkable here, as far as I’m concerned. This is a simple story, as I said, and I can’t really imagine it working this well. So much of its success depends upon the performance of the actors, especially Babak Ahmadpour, the lead. A film with this big a role for a child can only succeed if that child actor is good and Ahmadpour does an excellent job of showing emotion and his inner life with his face.

Because the lead succeeds, we believe this simple story and we are constantly on his side when the adults in his life fail to listen to him or understand what he is trying to do. And I mean I was really on his side. I was quite irritated by his mother and his grandfather in particular for how they didn’t listen to him. I think all three actors should be commended for their performances but I still think it comes down to the kid.

Though this is just a story about traveling to the next village to deliver something. Kiarostami wrings out a lot of suspense and drama. It’s kind of remarkable how much, given the stakes. And the film genuinely made me care about whether or not this friend would get to stay in school.

I think it’s just a really remarkable film and one of the better neo-realist films of the 1980s.


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