The mastery of Abbas Kiarostami is most evident, perhaps, in his restraint, in the depth he suggests through omission. His films routinely aspire to the frustration of curiosity: Audiences are intrigued by their mysteries, teased into fascination, and finally abandoned without the satisfaction of closure. But it’s precisely the absence of answers that makes the questions endure. This is the key to their richness.
In Taste of Cherry, the fate of a man seeking death is obscured by an invitation to ponder our own morality. In Shirin, we study the faces of women as they remain transfixed by a movie screen we never see. The Wind Will Carry Us, one of Kiarostami’s greatest, likewise bristles with secrecy, and much of its mystique is derived from the sensation that important information is being held just out of view.
We faintly glean that this is the story of Behzad (Behzad Dourani), a broadcast journalist (and director surrogate) assigned to cover an unusual funeral ceremony in a remote Kurdish village hundreds of miles outside of Tehran. But the event that occasions Behzad’s rural sojourn proves of less interest to Kiarostami than the time spent waiting around for it to transpire.
This is a deeply, patiently observational film, and the details Kiarostami emphasizes — a dung beetle struggling to haul away its bounty, an apple rolling haphazardly across an uneven floor, a bone floating down a stream — seem somehow profound in their banality, a mystery of ineffable beauty.