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:: Ten

Abbas Kiarostami is Iran’s most successful and well known filmmaker with a career spanning thirty years and garnering several major awards including the Palme d’Or at Cannes with Taste of Cherry (1997). Ten was also nominated for the prize in 2002.

Ten is a series of ten vignettes as a woman drives her car around the city with various different passengers, among them her son, her sister, a prostitute and a jilted woman. They talk about their lives, they cry, they argue. There is no plot to speak of and the style is that of an observational documentary. The digital camera is mounted on the dashboard so that we see the passenger or the driver, never the two together and never outside the car. We only get a glimpse of the city through the window as the woman drives.

The woman is a beautiful divorcee, played by Mania Akbari, who has remarried and is having difficulty with her bossy, imperious young son, who sees everything wrong with her and nothing wrong with his porn-watching father. The woman constantly repeats her philosophy on life, you must love yourself before you can love anybody, you win and you lose in life and you may as well just accept it, you can live only for yourself, no one else. This must be a pretty radical opinion for a woman in Iran to hold, particularly one in make up, with wisps of her hair showing, but we don’t get a lot of politics in this film. There aren't many contexts at all about anything. Some passengers are more interesting than others. The woman whose lover has decided not to marry her is truly touching and restrained. The old lady who only wants to pray is less interesting.

The performance of Amin Maher as the son is a stand out. He is only a child and yet is completely natural and authoritative. You want to punch and applaud him at the same time.

There has been much written about the innovation and daring of the shooting style, but a short television show screened recently on the ABC called Marion and Jeff did exactly the same thing. Jeff drove his taxi around and talked, with the camera fixed in place in the car. It wasn’t a foreign film, so its innovation was commented on. But Ten, like a few recent releases, shows that a simple film shot on a digital camera can work just as well on the big screen as a big budget effects extravaganza.

Screening at the Lumiere Cinemas