“Where is the Friend’s Home“ by Abbas Kiarostami begins with a class room scene. The teacher while doing his usual chores starts checking the home work. After checking few works he finds one being done on a sheet of paper. Upon inquiring the student tells that he mistakenly left the copy at his cousin’s place. Then the teacher asks what is the time that he has made the same mistake to which he says 3rd time and on further pushing he starts crying to which the teacher says that it’s the last time he’s letting go the mistake and he will surely expel him the next time. Then as the school ends the kid gets out with his friend and they return home. They do some on the way plays while walking and the kid also has a good fall while running at which his friend helps.
Now the kid’s friend is at home where his mother is getting his kid brother clothed up after a bath, his brother is doing his homework and his grandmother watering the plants. He also starts upon his homework after some usual chores that his mother assigns him. As he begins with his homework he realizes that he also has his friend’s notebook.
Now faced with the situation of his friend getting expelled in the class tomorrow he decides to get him his notebook back but he is faced by his mothers non understanding of the gravity of the situation and after several unsuccessful attempts of persuading his mother, he leaves on his own without telling her.
And thus begins a struggle of finding friend’s home of which he doesn’t have a clue, save for the fact that he lives in Postheh. The movie is a beautiful meditation of general humanitarianism coupled with care and compassion and at the same time undaunted by meaning-less opinions and un-understanding adults. The movie ends on a note of triumph but not as expected by the kid.
Here’s an interview of Kiarostami in NYT of some time back.
Taste of Cherry – Abbas Kiarostami
The movie begins with Mr. Badii moving around in his car, observing people here and there and then randomly or may be not so randomly trying to start conservation with them and in the end offering them some money for a small job. Initially he picks up guy who, surprised, thwarts him away. Then there’s another manual worker with whom he talks a bit but has to leave him in the end too. then he makes a sepoy board his car but after some talk he runs away too after he says that he needs to come, at some place that he shows him, 6 in the dawn, near a hole that he showed and then after confirming whether he’s alive or not has to put 20 shovels of soil o him in the hole. Mr. Badii then finds another person, a seminarist, who listens to him promisingly before trying to preach him a bit from Koran. Badii ultimately leaves him also though he didn’t reject the offer, but didn’t accept also.
Moving ahead Badii then finds an old man who after accepting his offer narrates an incident of his, also trying to commit suicide. He says, once after deciding to end his life he went out in his car with a rope. After reaching a tree he climbed up, as he couldn’t throw the rope over. After reaching he felt some thing soft in his hands. It was a mulberry tree. He ate one, then 2nd and then third. Meanwhile few children passed the tree and upon seeing him up there they asked him to shake the tree. Which he did and then they all ate the mulberries. Then he took some mulberries and went home, and then his wife ate them too and liked them too much. He sang one poem too and kept on talking till they reached his place. Badii who was listening nonchalantly then tries to confirm if he’s still up to the job to which he says he is. Badii after taking his leave again comes back to him to say him to make sure he’s dead before shoveling the soil in by throwing two stones(to kill him) to which he replies, he will throw three and then walks back.
Last scene is of Badii lying in the hole, face up which is after every moment or two is visible in the dark because of lightning. The movie then curiously ends with the scene showing the crew, the director and the actor.
Kiarostami is known for his plotless, unpretentious cinema, treading philosophical themes. He tries involving audience whose stereotypical thoughts he challenges and makes him imaginatively participates. Talking about the movie neither revealed are the reasons for Badii wanting to commit suicide, nor the reasons for that old man accepting to carry out Badii’s wish. What’s more important here is one’s desire and decision for committing suicide and not the reason. Will his desire be respected? The three men he meets present three different outlooks of life and their three different views on suicide. The movie moves slow with close takes on the faces of the people mainly as most of the scenes take place in the car Badii’s driving.
Few links: NYT’s article, at Rotten Tomatoes, Criterion’s Essay.