Where is the Friend’s Home? (1987)

30 11 2008

This is, by a fairly decent margin, the most impressive Abbas Kiarostami film I’ve seen. I probably need to revisit Close-Up and Taste of Cherry sometime in the future, but I still don’t remember them being as simple and straight-forward as this film is. I mean this in a positive way, of course. Kiarostami takes a really setup: a little boy must return a notebook back to its owner, one of his classmates. If said classmate does not do his homework in this notebook, then he will be expelled. It’s the sort of thing that could have easily been dramatic and silly in the hands of someone less capable, but in Kiarostami’s, it is a gorgeous examination of life in rural Iran.

The protagonist, a quiet wide-eyed eight year named Ahmed, is an ideal student. The boy who sits next to him, Mohamed, isn’t. The teacher makes a mockery of him when he forgets to do his homework in a notebook for the third time, something that is seen as unacceptable. On their way out, Ahmed accidentally takes Mohamed’s notebook and doesn’t realize it until school has long since concluded. Ahmed skillfully dodges his own responsibilities at home to look for his friend’s home.

Kiarostami’s influences seem very obvious here, but it’s not really a problem. The whole way in which the drama unfolds is very Antonioni-esque. In other words, it’s just a little boy wandering around town stumbling into some very poignant and moving moments. The music, which is actually really great, definitely seems to be a nod to Satyajit Ray, especially considering that it is put up against scenes like a little boy chasing a donkey.

Oddly enough, the scene towards the end where Ahmed is befriended by an elderly man sort of reminds me of Mike Leigh’s Naked, specifically the scene in which Johnny has that philosophical conversation with the secuirty guard. The conversation has a much different tone here, it definitely relies on the same innocence found in Linda Manz character in Days of Heaven (a performance which inadvertently shaped the way younger children are depicted) but it has the same sort of dynamic as Leigh’s film. It’s fitting, though, since both Leigh and Kiarostami tend to be seen as “socially-concious” directors but both offer much more.

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14 09 2013
كياروستامي ١ | Salwa Sidahmed

[…] الأول هو “أين منزل الصديق؟” الذي أنتج عام ١٩٨٧م. الفيلم هو الأول في ثلاثية […]

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