AFI Film Fest: Closed Curtain Review (★★★)

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Closed CurtainWhat sounded like a one-man comedy that could have ended up with the same feel as ‘The Wall‘ (2013), Jafar Panahi and Kamboziya Partovi made this allegorical narrative feature into emotional mind games and magic-eye mysteries. The foreign entry from Iran really makes you think when watching it as three stories and worlds collide into one overall story. Truly a masterpiece that cannot be ignored, this contender for the Audience Choice Award at the AFI Film Festival may have to work a bit harder to turn heads.

The story begins with a writer who has a dog in a time where having a dog is illegal. Through a strange whirlwind of events, a young woman is left at the villa he is staying at and she seems to know way to much about him. After a robbery and suicide of sorts, the owner of the house returns to find his villa robbed but just wants to fix it and leave. When and how things get complicated is when they talk to each other, though not all the time, falling in and out of each other’s story lines and lives. As if three worlds collide and all three dimensions intercept, allowing interaction amongst the characters, this is a strong telling of how life for Panahi and Partovi seems like in Iran.

The underlying issues addressed in this film are discreetly done and in a way that everyone can sympathize with. The dog can mean millions of precious hobbies including filmmaking that Partovi is protecting, doing everything he can just to keep it safe. Also, Melika, played by Maryam Moqadam, represents the questions and suspicions in the world that keeps you guessing and moving, at one time with Partovi and at another with Panahi. And Panahi is as he is, always moving and a facade of calm waters despite being violated, robbed, and taken care of by his neighbors. It’s great to see it all laid out in a way that even the simplest minds could understand. Serious and filled with symbolism and meaning, this film is truly a powerful piece of media.

Closed Curtain Still

Overall, the title suggests thousands of possible meanings and implications between the characters and what is on the other side of the curtain, which is repeatedly shown. It begins with Partovi, the writer, closing the curtains and then covering then with black sheets. The villa walls are covered with white sheets and Panahi closes the metal gate in the end, closing Melika in, watching Panahi and Parvoti drive away, with the dog. The camera movements, so still in the beginning and then the style changes when the emotions heighten, the characters are on edge, and during the shift in emotions when the worlds collide. Overall, color is consistent with reality and there aren’t any drastic changes that pushes the audience. Instead, the comedy is subtle as is the storytelling.

Closed Curtain‘ is a great film to see with family, older children, and friends. There’s cultural values, morals, and lessons deeply woven into the story. Each and every character are carefully chosen and used to push along the shortened time frame. Although there are some issues with storytelling that can be unclear, the ultimate interpretation is up to the audience and what they choose to make of what they are presented with. This is not a film to be taken lightly and is very much for the deep thinkers of our time. Teachers can show this film in their classes just to have fun dissecting the meanings behind every element of this story and what it all means. And, best of all, the situation in Iran is current, which is important to the present state of war and peace.