leave a comment --Ken Fox
As the '90s drew to a close and film critics named the greatest directors of the decade, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (TASTE OF CHERRY, THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES) topped many a short list. It's not hard to see why: Kiarostami's films are smart, slow moving,
beautifully shot and tantalizingly self-reflexive. By those standards alone, Kiarostami's most recent film can only further his reputation among cineastes. A man claiming to be an engineer (Bhezad Dourani) but who, like many Kiarostami heroes, is probably really a filmmaker, arrives in a remote
village in Iranian Kurdistan in anticipation of a mysterious event that may not ever occur. Just what that event entails is never specified, but its occurrence depends on the death of an ailing old woman. The engineer and his impatient crew (who are never actually seen, only heard whinging from
the sidelines) set up vigil in the home of one of the old woman's sons; her grandson, a clever schoolboy named Farzad, acts as the group's guide through the labyrinthine village. The engineer maintains tentative contact with the outside world via his cell phone, but each time it rings he's forced
to jump in his car and head for a hilltop cemetery where the bad reception is slightly better. It's through these phone calls and his growing friendship with Farzad that Kiarostami defines the engineer's self-centered relationship with the rest of the world: His personal goals come before all
else, including family, co-workers and a sense of respect for the rest of humanity. The plot is a classic hurry up-and-wait situation, and it's repetitive, open ended and slowly paced: Kiarostami presents the gradual evolution of a human being as a mystery without a conventional solution. On the
surface, nothing really happens, but to call it a nonevent would be to miss the point entirely.