Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Ten is 10 conversations in a moving car, between the woman driver and her front seat passengers - family, friends and chance encounters.

The woman's son, Amin, badgers her to let him go live with his father, whom she has divorced, instead of his stepfather. An elderly woman expresses her faith in God and the Saints, trying to persuade the woman to come into the Mosque with her. A cynical, laughing prostitute argues that marriage and prostitution are different facets of the same business - the married woman sells sex wholesale, the prostitute retail. A woman from the mausoleum expresses her hope for true love.

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Cumulatively, the episodic conversations paint a vivid picture of contemporary Iranian life and, especially, of the place of women in the post-revolutionary era.

What makes a remarkably stripped down movie all the more astonishing is the deceptive simplicity of director Abbas Kiarostami's approach.

Excepting one or two occasions when the camera moves to reveal something outwith its/our field of vision, the entire film is shot from two static set ups, approximately 90 degrees apart. One covers the driver and the other the passenger. Their focus is fixed. The lighting and sound appear to be whatever the natural environment provides.

Then, there's the editing style. The camera remains trained on one or other of the participants. Sometimes it's the talker, sometimes it's the listener, sometimes it's one to the exclusion of the other. Never is it a pendulum action between talking heads.

With all this, one suspects the experience of making Ten must have been unusually testing for the performers. If so, they rarely show it, although a few jump cuts in the sequences with Amin hint at possible difficulties.

If the film has a flaw, it is an aversion to risk. This seems paradoxical, but pared-down finely polished little gems are what we've come to expect from Kiarostami over recent years. When one recalls that much of A Taste Of Cherries took place in a taxi cab, one also starts to worry that he may be unwilling to stray from his - and Iranian cinema's - tried and tested formula.

Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2002
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Conversations in a car reveal many aspects of modern Iranian life, especially for women.
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Angus Wolfe Murray **1/2

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Writer: Abbas Kiarostami

Starring: Mania Akbari, Amin Maher, Kamran Adl, Roya Arabshahi, Amene Moradi, Mandana Sharbaf, Katayoun Taleizadeh

Year: 2002

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: Iran/France


EIFF 2002

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