Critics' Pick

Closed Curtain (Parde) (NR)

Drama 106 min. July 9, 2014
By Michael Atkinson
Sometimes, if not often enough, movies demand to be watched as something more than just expensive daydreams -- they come festooned with real-world urgency and relevance, and the context of their existence kicks the shit out of how entertained we may or may not be at any given moment. No contemporary filmmaker possesses the hyper-context belonging to Jafar Panahi, who has become justly world famous for not only being under house arrest in Iran and banned from filmmaking for 20 years (for anti-government "propaganda") but also for continuing to make films anyway.

Closed Curtain opens with a five-minute-long view through the security grate of Panahi's beach house, as a cab pulls up down by the Caspian beach and slowly disgorges a writer (Kambuzia Partovi). Once inside, he releases the dog he had secreted in his duffel bag — and the reality dawns that he is in hiding, as much for himself as for his dog, whom he had saved from the Islamic Republic's newly ramped-up campaign against "unclean" pets. The writer immediately closes the curtains and blacks out every window with cloth, and we have the acute sense that from here on in, everything concrete will be metaphoric, and vice versa.

Trapped with the protagonist in these rather lavish digs, we're perhaps less surprised than he is to be accosted by a 20-something brother and sister (Hadi Saeedi and Maryam Moghadam) invading the house after running, so they say, from the police. Eventually, Panahi appears as well, and the film slips between the movie we're watching, its production, and multiple movies within the movie, coming off as imagined scenarios that can be swiped and reconceptualized. And that's moviemaking, isn't it?
Jafar Panahi, Kambozia Partovi Kambozia Partovi, Maryam Moghadam, Jafar Panahi, Hadi Saeedi, Azadh Torabi, Agha Olia, Zeynab Khanum Variance Films

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