Thursday, July 08, 2004

Counting the Spokes of Abbas Kiarostami's Ten

I recently met with Tim Perkis at the Shattuck Cinemas to see Ten, a new film by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (Director of Cannes Winner Taste of Cherry). The entire film takes place in a car with the camera mounted on the dash in order to document 10 conversations between the driver (a recent divorcee) and: her sister, a friend, a prostitute, an elder fundamentalist, and on a few occasions her son, all presented in 10 chronological episodes. The film appears to take place over the course of a few days.

While the camera captures the faces of the characters in an uncanny way that defies past efforts of realism, the conversations, like the hands of the clock, revolve around the subjective axle of feminism. The driver provokes her passengers to wrestle with issues of self-image, dependency, separation, spiritual devotion, and ultimately, liberation. The final episode approaches redemption in a touching moment when the driver's sister reveals a way that she has freed herself from her male counterpart.

The conversations with her son are perhaps the most revealing of the subject, while he struggles with his parent’s separation and seems to unanimously blame her for their troubles.

This film will more than likely make it to the 2003 top 10 list. It's the first film this year (apart from the Castro Theater’s presentation of Le Cercle Rouge, which is not a new release) that has made me even consider that a top 10 list could emerge from what has been a fairly bleak year for movies.

Oakland, CA


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