Saturday, March 3, 2007

Through the Olive Trees


Zire darakhtan zayton; Drama, Iran/France, 1994; D: Abbas Kiarostami, S: Mohamad Ali Keshavarz, Farhad Kheradmand, Zarifeh Shiva, Hossein Rezai, Tehreh Ladanian

An overweight director is interviewing a bunch of women in search for an actress in his new film. He is namely shooting a film in the village Koker in the northern part of Iran, but that area is still suffering from the consequences of an earthquake. His actor is stuttering, so he replaces him. His assistant finds him a new actor, the poor Hossein, but during the filming new problems show up when the actress Tahereh doesn't want to greet him like it says in the script. The director finds out the reason for the hostility lies in the fact that Hossein is in love with Tahereh, who is rich, but her grandmother is against the marriage, although her parents are dead. After the filming is over, Hossein is futilely running after Tahereh.

Cheerful and optimistic drama "Through the Olive Trees" has a clever plot idea about a film within a film, obviously based on director Abbas Kiarostami's own problems during shooting films with inexperienced actors; already in the first scene the protagonist Keshavarz shows up looking directly into the camera and saying; "Greetings to the viewers, I'm the director of the film". Of course, he is not the director of this film, but just an actor playing a director who is trying to shoot a film, but it's a pity that after the 5 minute long tracking shot of driving through a road the level of quirkiness starts diminishing until the movie just turns into a simple, conventional drama and all other potential meta film inventions are forgotten. As a whole, the movie is decent and gentle, but the character Tahereh seems one dimensional and the director's style isn't stimulating enough, turning the story into a demanding and realistic, but empty experience. Some would even debate why someone would make a monotone film about life when everyone can enjoy a monotone life for free, but the film also offers a lot of deep truths about humanity.

Grade:++

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