Life, and Nothing More...

Life, and Nothing More... ★★★★½

"I think if people died and they came back to life, they'd appreciate life more."

Slabs, bricks, and debris of houses once humbly standing are scattered across fissured lands, their inhabitants driven out into the smallness of tents, just as scattered in locations and emotions, if not jostled into a long walk to somewhere with all they own, all that's left resting on their shoulders, in their arms, or behind their backs. Cinema, similar to the earthquake that has passed, causes devastation purely from the course it takes in showing the craggy and rough roads, the high plateaus where survival, the only possession intact, recovers and encamps. They are initially seen from a distance, from the windshield and side windows of a car, until this mere passing observation changes to rapt association. Embedded in the winding roads and risky detours the car traverses is a search for the boy from "Where is the Friend's Home," which mirrors the many acts of searching in each stopover, each turn of the neck for a glance: for bodies buried under collapsed structures, for a scant coherency of the complex movements of grief, for some tangible grip on lives shaken and upended by earth's tempestuous nature. Where is the friend's home, bearing the past image of the province, is pruned down to where is the home, uncovering its present image.

Reality often melds with fiction in Kiarostami's humanist works. The intersection of these two realms with the use of the docufiction style is reorganised through the fictionalisation of the director himself, where the showing of the work is also a retrospection of a previous work, and reconnection with previous characters occurs with the encounters and glimpses of their current lives; however imagined, however true. The philosophical strains in the dialogues handed over to children (like in other films written and/or directed by Kiarostami: "Where is the Friend's House," "The Wind and the Willow," "The Traveler," and "The White Balloon") accentuate the trust he has in the profound simplicity of their ingenuous perception.
Yes, life goes on, indeed; but something else does in “Life, and Nothing More”: the permanence of film as an experience, until that experience waxes into memory—in this instance the reproduction of the devastating aftermath of a catastrophe; for every time someone engages with the film, the post-disaster struggle, the rubbles of suffering gathered, the collective Iranian resilience are looked at over and over again, so too are the elusive silhouettes of what is found in the universal undertaking of losing and seeking. 

(Part of my film fondue, 2022 list)

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