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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Shockingly good.March 25 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
one of my favorite things about this directorJuly 13 2015
- Published on Amazon.com
I too must file a more positive review of "Shirin." It does appeal to a select audience, not in a pretentious, but practical way, in that some viewers are just not interested in the same things that others are.
Kiarostami uses sound in unusual ways in many of his works, one of my favorite things about this director. This characteristic is brought once again to fruition in Shirin, as the real audience must listen to the story as the faux “audience” views it . . . a little challenging if one relies upon captioning.
I was pulled in several directions re. this film. It was so seamlessly constructed that I was certain that the audience was real, and couldn’t wait to watch the Special Features at the end to see how it was done. When it became obvious that Kiarostami was using actresses, coaching them not even to a real story, it was at first quite disappointing.
But it also became obvious that the director is a master of illusion in the process. He makes you think that you are actually peering into the very soul of Iranian women as they watch a sweet, but unforgivably melodramatic “12th century Persian poem” (DVD jacket) acted out on the screen. It seems to be a wonderful window into traditional Iranian culture, irrepressible despite the revolution. Hence, I was rather disenchanted about the acting, until I saw how much clever skill went into the process.
What an experimental tour de force! Kiarostami takes chances, and that’s a good and brave thing when one is already comfortably well-known and established as an artist. I hope that he continues to dare to experiment, despite the inevitable risks.
I would have given Shirin 5 stars if he’d used a real audience, which would be a challenging experiment in itself. But rating the movie must also include the excellent short films included as a Bonus in this DVD, “Rug” and “Roads of Kiarostami.” These gentle works are quietly outstanding. “Rug” is a beautiful piece about a Persian rug interwoven not only with gorgeous traditional designs, but with a sweet poem of new love. “Roads” was a collaboration with Korea and is a collage of road scenes from years of the director’s work. He explains that he retrospectively realized how commonly he used the theme of roads in his work, and had thousands of examples of roads used symbolically and for visual interest.
“Roads” is presented without dialogue, but with a simple audio background largely of simple baroque-style contemplative music. The scenes are modified photographically for interest and it results in a beautiful and moving zen-like ecological and spiritual meditation. I was moved to tears at the end by a silent poem with an indirect message about the necessity of avoiding nuclear war . . . a profound insight and startlingly relevant on the hopeful eve of a possible Iranian agreement with the West over nuclear controls.
Immersive BeautyAug. 13 2015
- Published on Amazon.com
I truly enjoyed the beauty this movie offered and the feelings it generated. It satisfied me in many ways. First, I must confess my gluttony for Farsi and poetry - the beautiful story told during this movie filled my hungry belly with such beautifully spoken words. The ability to express love, anguish and desire in Farsi provides a depth of feeling unimaginable in the English language and this movie satisfied that emptiness I experience daily with English. I imagine that one who does not understand Farsi would possibly not be able to enjoy this movie since the depth of feelings cannot translate well to English. I love the freedom the movie provided to create the imagery of the story told, feeding the beauty of the story with the mind - what better story than to imagine it yourself? Being able to imagine the visuals of the scenes heard through the storytelling. Being able to enhance such visuals by hearing the sound effects of the rain, lightning and horses, made it that much more appealing for me. There was validation in seeing the feelings generated by my senses on the faces of the audience in the movie. At first I was confused by the visuals of the movie, all the close ups. But the truth is that being able to observe the women and their beauty and their demeanors was satisfying as well, a reminder to slow down, observe, take it all in. I think this movie was well ahead of its time. With such a great shift in our culture to simpler times, the rise of podcasts, DYIs and minimalism, this movie raises the question: Is there anything more pleasant than someone feeding your imagination?
1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A rare miss from KiarostamiSept. 10 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
<strong>Shirin</strong> (Abbas Kiarostami, 2008)
I am normally a fan of both capital-A-art-film (<em>Begotten</em> is in my top ten films of all time) and Abbas Kiarostami (I was pretty rapturous about <em>A Taste of Cherry</em>, and only slightly less so about <em>Ceritifed Copy</em>), so <em>Shirin</em>, about which I knew not a bloody thing other than that it seems to be Kiarostami's least accessible film (<em>The Guardian</em> called the film "a strain on the viewer"). It turned out that the capsule description on Netflix--which is so often incomplete, or entirely wrong--was perfectly accurate in this case; the film is an hour and a half of close-ups of women watching a movie (anecdotally, not even the movie portrayed here). There are men in the audience; they can be seen in the background occasionally. But all of the close-ups are of women, mostly Iranian, one French.
Normally, I get it. I understand what Radha Bharadwaj was on about in the vastly underrated <em>Closetland</em>, I saw without any problems what Stan Brakhage was doing in pretty much every one of his movies I've seen, Derek Jarman's <em>Blue</em> made perfect sense to me, even if I didn't think it actually worked all that well. But here, I didn't have clue one what Kiarostami wanted to tell me. I am more than willing to entertain the possibility that it's not the movie, it's me, and this one simply went right over my head. But if Kiarostami had a point to make here, in my estimation, he missed it. We have a series of close-ups and nothing more. *
3 of 32 people found the following review helpful
RidiculousJune 29 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Well, I saw the film on Netflix. It's entirely focussed (close-up) on the faces of a female audience who are apparently watching a show depicting the fateful love story of Shirin & Farhad. Their facial reactions (usually pathetic) is what is shown for the entire length of the film. We are not even given the basic information if it's a film or a play or what. We only hear voices & sounds. As is usually the case with Mr. Kiarostami's films, you are left entirely to stretch your imagination to infinity to find out what it all means. To me it means nothing beside the fact that a very clever film-maker enjoys making fun of a lot poeple. Of course he does'nt have enough funds & absolutely no freedom (in Iran) to make sensible films. The net result is very irritating, pathetic & ridiculous. My great surprise is the West's critical acclaim to this nonsense for so long. I speak & understand Persian. I am quite familiar with visual arts in general & been watching films for 50 years. So there is no way Mr. Kiarostami could fool me. At least no more !!