Cutting between his trial for fraud and re-creations of his time spent with the family, Kiarostami juggles narrative perspectives and sympathies, raising questions of the family's complicity in the deception (as fellow cinephiles they are seduced by the idea of acting in a film made in their house), Sabazin's motives (an unemployed loser enjoying a rare power and respect) and the differing roles of both journalist and film-maker in exploiting his story.
Testimonies differ, witnesses are missing and evidence has been destroyed, but as Kiarostami delicately pieces his tale together, what emerges is a subtle philosophical debate on illusion and identity, shot through with a humane but mischievous humour. When Sabazin is interrogated by the judge about accepting money from the family, for example, he reveals that the screenplay that "Makhmalbaf" was working on at the time ended with "the one with the money giving it to the one without".
What is finally so rewarding about Close Up is the generosity underpinning its formal accomplishment. When Sabazin explains his apparently free-loading interpretation of the Makhmalbaf role, he describes how he wanted them to realise that "a real director is one who mingles with the people". By taking his story from reality and using non actors, Kiarostami is just that, and in doing so has dodged the intellectual narcissicism of so many self-reflexive films, to produce a genuinely moving piece of cinema. Close Up not only suggests the multi-layered nature of truth; it also realises Sabazin's dream to have his "suffering" recorded, to become the star of his own film. This is subjective documentary-making at its best.Reuse content