David Punch’s review published on Letterboxd:
Makhmalbaf’s reflexive contemplation on his youth, the upsetting consequences of emotional action, and the exorcising action of film as a medium of expression is an intriguing, often humorous, and ultimately contemplative look at a multi-faceted experience gestated over a twenty year time span. It’s not always clear what moments are fabricated for this meta narrative and what is possibly spontaneous, as Makmalbaf inserts himself into the story as the director piecing together the narrative of this one true to life event many years after the fact. It’s as much a reconciliation of his youthful arrogance as it is a story in its own right, then another story on top of that in the form of finding the right actors to represent the younger version of the players in recreating the tumultuous event of his youth. It’s a lot going on at once, easy to lose the thread at points, but all of it works together to build towards a cohesive and cinematically fervent finale. The film can feel more like an exercise for the director than an inherently provocative display of artisanship for the audience to contemplate, but it is nonetheless satisfying to watch a filmmaker meticulously deconstruct this single scene to piece things back together again as a form of humanist expression. The cinéma vérité approach to storytelling is both effective and, at times, aimless in presenting its narrative, but the brief runtime ensures that the point is made quickly without too much narrative plodding taking away from the core intent of the film. A Moment of Innocence is the kind of film that present a very personal messaging and expects you to turn inwards to consider how it then relates to you. Its themes are at one universal and very individualistic to its director.