Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original Title: Bad ma ra khahad bord
Iran/France, 1999. MK2 Productions. Screenplay by Abbas Kiarostami, from an idea by Mahmoud Aiden. Cinematography by Mahmoud Kalari. Produced by Marin Karmitz, Abbas Kiarostami. Music by Peyman Yazdanian. Film Editing by Abbas Kiarostami.
Abbas Kiarostami allows images and experiences to unfold in a bewitchingly natural rhythm in one of his most celebrated films. Set in a rural mountain village whose real inhabitants portray the majority of the supporting cast, it sees this peaceful, remote hamlet interrupted by the arrival of visitors whose purpose is not entirely clear to them.
Accepting the explanation that they are some kind of professional engineers, the people of the village are generous hosts to the one member of the group that we spend the majority of our time with, a Tehran filmmaker who is hiding the fact that he is actually there for the impending death of an ill centenarian woman who is also the relative of a colleague of his. Behzad (Behzad Dorani) is hoping to record the village’s funeral rituals for a special interest piece, but while keeping his intention secret from the generally camera-shy inhabitants, he sees the days stretch out long and slow; the inevitable doesn’t arrive with the big-city swiftness he was hoping for, and he is forced to find his way through the rhythm of a sleepy enclave where milk is purchased directly from a cow and tours are provided by an adolescent boy between his school exams.
Compelling without ever being overtly calculated, Kiarostami brilliantly captures the charm of these figures without allowing them to become precious caricatures of rural life, and while the film doesn’t have the deep emotional resonance of the superior Close Up, its cold brilliance is enough to keep the viewer enchanted by its undetectable magic.
Toronto International Film Festival: 1999
Venice Film Festival Award: Grand Special Jury Prize