Monday, December 21, 2020

2020 Blind Spot Series: Life, and Nothing More...


Written, directed, and co-edited by Abbas Kiarostami, Life, and Nothing More… is the story of a filmmaker and his son traveling through Iran following the 1990 Earthquake as they also venture into Koker to find the whereabouts of the people who appeared in Kiarostami’s film Where is the Friend’s House? The film is a mixture of fiction and documentary as well as the second part of a trilogy of films based and set in the Koker villages in rural Iran as a man tries to find out what happened to the people who lived through the devastating earthquake. Starring Farhad Kheradmand, Pouyar Payvar, and Hossein Rezai. Life, and Nothing More… is a rapturous film from Abbas Kiarostami.

Set in the aftermath of the 1990 earthquake in the Manjil-Rudbar area of northern Iran, the film is about a filmmaker and his son who both try to go to Koker to find the lead actor from the film Where is the Friend’s House? and see if he’s alive. It’s a film with a simple premise yet it blurs the lines between reality and fiction as the father and son are portrayed by non-actors yet many of the things they encounter and the people they meet are all real people who all survived the earthquake. Even as they would meet a few of the actors who were in that film and see how they dealt with what happened to them and what they gained and lost from this devastating event.

Abbas Kiarostami’s direction is largely straightforward as it is presented as if it was a documentary film. Though some of its narrative is fictional, much of what Kiarostami is presenting are real life events happening on film as if it’s all being documented as it is shot on the locations of where the earthquake is including the small village of Koker and nearby areas. The usage of the wide and medium shots do gaze into these various locations including the zig-zag road on the hill as well as these locations that play into this beautiful landscape that is ravaged by this horrific earthquake. Throughout the course of the film, Kiarostami has the filmmaker and his son talk to various people as they discuss what they lost and such but also some unique perspective on how life works and how to move on.

Editing the film with sound editor Changiz Sayad, Kiarostami would keep much of the editing straightforward with some long shots gazing towards certain locations or having the camera be shot from the point of view of the car the filmmaker’s driving whether it’s on a narrow mountain road or in a small area. With sound recorders Hassan Zahedi and Behrouz Abedini capturing a lot of the natural sounds that Sayad would editor into some collages as it add to the tense atmosphere of the film as well as in some of the quieter moments such as the filmmaker finding a baby in the woods crying or the filmmaker’s son having a chat with an actor from Where is the Friend’s House? about who will win the 1990 FIFA World Cup. There are also these moments that showcase the human spirit where all of these people come together to help one another despite losing their homes as they would all watch a World Cup game. The film’s ending is about the filmmaker focusing on his quest to find the lead actors from that film but also to see what people had to endure in the aftermath of this catastrophic event as they all had to go on despite what they had lost. Overall, Kiarostami crafts an evocative and ravishing film about a filmmaker and his son traveling to Koker to find a couple of actors in the aftermath of the Manjil-Rudbar earthquake of 1990.

Cinematographer Homayoun Payvar does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it is largely straightforward to maintain a somewhat-documentary look yet it captures many of the film’s locations with such beauty that is just astonishing to watch. Costume designer Hassan Zahidi does nice work with the clothes that the filmmaker and his son wear as well as a newlywed that the filmmaker meets. The only piece of music that appears in the film is a classical piece by Antonio Vivaldi that pops up every now and then throughout the film. The film’s cast that largely features non-professional actors that include Hossein Rezai as the newlywed man and Mohammed Reza Parveneh as one of the young actors from Where is the Friend’s House? The performances of Farhad Kheradmand and Pouya Payvar in their respective roles as the filmmaker and his son are amazing for expressing a sense of naturalism into their performances as well as providing that air of humanity that the film needs.

Life, and Nothing More… is a spectacular film from Abbas Kiarostami. Featuring gorgeous visuals, a fascinating mixture of reality and fiction, and its compelling study of humanity in the wake of a tragic and catastrophic event. The film is a unique treasure in how it explores a couple of people traveling to Koker and watch the devastation of this earthquake and how people continue to live. In the end, Life, and Nothing More… is a tremendous film from Abbas Kiarostami.

Abbas Kiarostami Films: (The Experience) – The Traveler (1974 film) - (A Wedding) – The Report (1977 film) - (First Case, Second Case) – (Fellow Citizens) – (First Graders) – Where is the Friend's House? - Homework (1989 film)Close-Up - Through the Olive TreesTaste of Cherry - (The Wind Will Carry Us) – (ABC Africa) – (Ten (2002 film)) – (Five (2003 film)) – (10 on Ten) – (Shirin) – Certfied Copy - Like Someone in Love - 24 Frames

© thevoid99 2020

1 comment:

Jay said...

I don't know this one, but you make it sound so romantic.