I always equate this movie with first moving to New York. It came out in the spring of 1998 and I loved it. During my first few years in New York, I went to well over 100 movies a year in the theaters. That included a number of films from Iran which was in the midst of a great run of filmmaking. It is because of that fact that 12 years later, the likes of Chris Larry and especially my dad still ridicule me for liking movies from Iran. As in, "Oh you didn't like (500) Days of Summer? Maybe you would have liked it more if it was from Iran and had subtitles."
I've seen a few films from Iran over the years that I'm pretty sure the naysayers would actually like - (Crimson Gold being the first one that comes to mind) but this one would not be one I'd recommend. It is slow and way too Iranian to recommend. It probably has elements of everything that people who like to make fun of recent foreign films in it.
That doesn't mean that the movie isn't absolutely amazing and completely memorable though. It's about a man who has decided to kill himself. He spends the day driving around a village on a hillside looking for someone to assist him. His plan is to take an overdose of pills after nightfall while sitting in a hole that he has dug at the bottom of a hill. All he asks is that whoever helps him will come the next morning to check on him. If he is dead, he wants the person to bury him. If he is alive because the suicide was unsuccessful, he wants the person to help him out of the hole. For this service, he is offering a good deal of money.
Obviously, he has a difficult time finding anyone to help him out. The movie consists of three major sequences - the first one is a conversation he has with his first passenger - a soldier on leave. The second is a seminary student who tries to persuade him not to kill himself. The third is a a taxidermist who agrees to help him. Because this movie is all artsy fartsy and FOREIGN, there is no satisfying conclusion to the film. But the ambiguities make the film that much richer and satisfying. I love this movie on its own terms and I love it for nostalgia purposes - New York City 1998 baby!! Or at least my 1998.
Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
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