Kiarostami's most accessible masterwork? No tricky structures or games with reality, just a warm, thoughtful, observant piece of neorealism. Kiarostami deserves credit as one of the all-time great directors of children, and indeed this is a film with an abiding faith that children have an ingrained decency—and that for all the pragmatic discipline adults want to teach them, they learn valuable lessons on their own.
I walked a long distance (w/ a friend) to go see WHERE IS THE FRIEND'S HOUSE? at a Kiarostami retrospective in 1997. Programming and projecting the new restoration of this sublime masterpiece in a theatre twenty-two years later has to be considered a highlight of my journey. What Kiarostami represents best shines in an image of maximal expressive potency, poetically open-ended rather than prosaically allegorical.
By reducing the filmic elements to a level of opaque abstraction, leaving only the quintessential pieces of dramaturgy, with a sense of framing, sound and montage that is absolutely unique, Kiarostami built an epic of childhood that sits amongst the greatest films ever made about the topic - it is also one of the most beautiful experiences that cinema can give you, period.
Here we see a short-hand for moral complicity so shattering in its effectiveness that it shows how little is required of cinema. A commitment to faces, the simplest of premises. So many truths herein about the specifics and universal, the way that a very human conflict is used to comment on a changing Iran. So thankful to Kiarostami for allowing us to access this space so foreign geographically but not spiritually