Where is the Friend's House? (1987)
January 10, 2020 7:41 AM - Subscribe

Eight year old Ahmed's best friend faces humiliation and expulsion from the strict village school, and only Ahmed can set things right. But the path to a good deed leads crooked and uphill, Nematzadeh's donkey is fast, and there's a major problem.
posted by fleacircus (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where Is the Friend’s House? (a.k.a. Where Is My Friend’s House?) is currently streaming on the Criterion Channel in the US.
posted by Etrigan at 12:58 PM on January 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

I watched this very recently! Small and masterful; I really relished the experience. Can I be extremely lazy and copy/paste my brief thoughts from Letterboxd?
Pure compassion. A polemic against reinscription of everyday emotional cruelty and dismissal so often heaped upon children in bitter expectation that they will continue the cycle--of selfishness, of routine violence, of unquestioning acceptance of limiting cultural structures. An unusually direct narrative compared to the other Kiarostami I have seen (admittedly, just Certified Copy and Close-Up) but it aligns well with the exquisitely unpretentious nature of the protagonist. Speaking of: great child acting always unsettles a bit, personally, but it works beautifully within the storytelling context here.
Incredibly open and welcome to suggestions for where to float next in Kiarostami's work--saw Close-Up for the first time last year and it immediately shot up the list of my favorite films of all time.
posted by youarenothere at 3:48 AM on January 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I really liked this movie.

The story is so simple, a pure quest story. A lot of the blurbs for the movie mention the goal of the quest, to return the friend's notebook, but I feel like even that is too much. The opening scenes are so good about setting up the consequences and the obstacles, and the reveal of having the second notebook is such a big punch. You immediately know it's going to be difficult and adults will be no help at all. Ahmed knows it too... there's no refusal of the call or anything.

I like how in this movie it takes SO MUCH ENERGY to deal with people. To get them to pay attention, to get them to listen, to get them to help, to deal with their "help". Everyone knows this and everyone is stubborn. Ahmed's pro-child-beating grandfather knows the precious value, to just be able to tell someone to do something once, and they do it. But then, that is also tyranny, he sucks don't listen to him. People are strange enough you barely need any exaggeration...

In reviews I read, a lot of people are moved by the final shot, the pressed flower in the notebook and the mark of the lesson done. I remembered more the shot a little before that, of the doors blowing open while Ahmed is doing his homework, and the night air rushing in.
posted by fleacircus at 12:49 PM on January 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

Incredibly open and welcome to suggestions for where to float next in Kiarostami's work

Well this is the first of the so-called "Koker Trilogy" and next is As Life Goes On aka Life and Nothing More but I've only seen this one.
posted by fleacircus at 12:51 PM on January 11, 2020

Yeah, As Life Goes On is something of a sequel to Where is My Friends House? or more accurately a revisitation of sorts in a different context. Here's the Letterboxd summary:

After the earthquake of Guilan, the film director and his son, Puya, travel to the devastated area to search for the actors of the movie the director made there a few years ago, “Where Is My Friend’s House?” (1987). In their search, they found how people who had lost everything in the earthquake still have hope and try to live life to the fullest.

This is followed by Through the Olive Trees which further refines the events in As Life Goes On. Here's the Letterboxd summary for that one:

The film focuses on one of the events in “Life, and Nothing More…” (1992), and explores the relationship between the film director, and the actors. The local actors play a couple who got married right after the earthquake. In reality, the actor is trying to persuade the actress that they should get married.

The relationships between the films are hard to explain fully, but the experience of watching them doesn't suffer for that as they are all as rewarding and immediate as Friends House and only get richer the more you dwell on the way Kiarostami ties them together and how it all relates to movie making and life. Beyond that, they're pretty much all good, the shorts as well as the features, at least from what I'm familiar with. so you'd have a hard time making a bad choice. (Though maybe set aside Five since it is a different kind of thing, an homage to Ozu, where Kiarostami uses a handheld camera to just film some more or less random life within a short distance of the place he was staying, not really a narrative per se.)
posted by gusottertrout at 2:37 PM on January 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

If you clip that scene out and put it in a glass of water you can grow an entire Wes Anderson movie.
posted by fleacircus at 4:05 PM on March 26, 2020

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