Gozaresh (1977) (The Report)
The Report is a typical example of the marriage-in-crisis film that many great filmmakers seem to have made during the early part of their careers. Such a gesture is usually channeled as critical reassessment, a personal confession, wish-fulfillment or even self-justification. But, for Kiarostami here, it becomes an opportunity to telescope the social situation of the country into a deceptively simple marital drama. In many ways, The Report reminds us of the remarkable vérité films of early Tarr, especially in its preoccupation with diminishing and often suffocating urban spaces. Kiarostami’s film is not about stasis, as many films of the subgenre are, but about disintegration. It situates itself at a narrative and historic point where institutions can no longer hold together. Corruption reigns supreme in the public sphere and money becomes the focal point of almost all discussions. The stuffy, noisy streets of Tehran seem as though they are already in a state of decay. It appears as if there can be no way out but downward – for the society and the family. Kiarostami rarely films his couple (Kurosh Afsharpanah and Shohreh Aghdashloo) together in the frame. Like Certified Copy (2010), which is the closest film to this one in terms of scenario, the director severs the protagonists from each other with his shot patterns and blocking, with the only holding force being their little girl child. Kiarostami also employs a large number of static, fixed compositions with judicious use of walls and doors so as to allow long chunks of action unfold within the same shot. This sense of mundanity is compounded by a soundtrack without any music and consisting of only direct sound, which would later become the director’s forte in the 90s.
(This is a small contribution to Sheila O’Malley’s Iranian Film Blogathon (Feb 21-27), which has already received a number of terrific entries)