If the mark of a good film is an easily recognizable character, then a great film would be one that holds a mirror to the face of the viewer. For me, Close-Up is one such film. As I watch Hossain Sabzian, a man who is so enthralled with film, step into the life of a family and convince them that he is the Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, I see myself in all the ways that I have sold myself as something that I am not.
The film is a docu-fiction from Iran written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami, and it presents the fraud trial of Hossain Sabzian, who weaseled his way into the graces of an Iranian family by posing as a film director and convincing the adult children of the family that he was interested in using their home as a location for his next film.
The presentation of the film is very interesting, with documentary elements intertwined with dramatizations of the events, so it kicks back and forth between the two with each party representing themselves in both. I can only imagine how precarious it would have been for the family to spend time with Sabzian again after the outcome of the trial.
The film hits me on a very personal level because I’ve surrounded myself with incredibly talented people who I consider to be friends. I always hoped at some level that their talent and persistence would somehow rub off on me; a sweet perfume that energized my soul to generate content that someone may consider valuable, even (or especially) if my mother is the only person. It is clear that the one thing that Sabzian wanted to be was admired for what he knew, rather than who he was.
I truly feel Sabzian is very relatable; he just wanted to be more than he was, and for one brief moment it happened. Through the film he was able to be a part of cinema that stands the test of time. I think that we all have our moments. I completely disagree with his methods, but would he have had any other way? Could he have made, fifty years into his life, a change from being that lower-middle-class worker to someone who created art? That’s the real challenge. Some people, me included, do not find that thing which ignites our souls until later than others. We cannot go back, only forward.
Without knowing it, Close-Up is why I am doing this. That’s not to say that I want to spend my life writing about film, but instead of sitting around waiting for that magic moment of inspiration to knock down my door, I found something that interests me, made a plan and a deadline, and executed it. Earlier in this project I looked for storytelling techniques littered throughout these films, then I started relating to the stories, and now Close-Up is the culmination of both.