I don't usually write reviews for anything on Amazon, but Shirin's rating of 1 star was an injustice I could not ignore. True, most people will dislike this movie, but the payoff for a perfect alignment of film and audience can sometimes be worth it.
Kiarostami is one of the world's best film directors, period. He can purposefully dispense with much of the technique cinema has accumulated over the years and, using only the most barebone methods, still craft an enthralling film like 10.
Shirin is one such film. The entire movie is medium shots of perhaps hundreds of veiled women observing what could be a film or (more likely) a stage adaptation of a certain Persian epic. They're a polite audience, so none of them speak. At certain points they're bored, or moved to tears, or elated by what must be an epic performance on the other side of the camera. Apparently some of them are quite famous, and you are certain to identify at the very least Juliette Binoche.
Under these artificial constraints, Kiarostami shifts the focus of the movie from the plot of the story being told beyond our grasp (which is quite romantic, although a bit hard to follow at points) to the tension of the audience's existence. Why are they all women? Why did a bunch of famous actresses decide to go to the same showing? Why is Juliette Binoche crying when she can't even speak Farsi? Why do the lights in the background repeat the same pattern on a cycle, with no correspondence to the story? Even the lengths of each shot form part of the true plot of the movie.
'Shirin' would be most rewarding for people who enjoy filmmakers whochallenge themselves with arbitrary restrictions, cinematic lipograms like 'Russian Ark' or 'Amour'. The DVD transfer and subtitles are very clear. It comes along with a short behind-the-scenes look I only skimmed through, but which you should most definitely not watch if you don't like spoilers. The story of the Persian epic is just your generic tragic love story about two young lovers kept apart by family s***, however, the real dramatic tension of 'Shirin' is all in the technique.