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For an experimental film made in such a simple and minimalist way (mostly improvised by non-professional actors), it is always fascinating to observe how it comments almost casually on many aspects of Iranian society, including the role of women from different points of view.
Discussions on feminism? I definitely prefer Panahi's Taxi.
10 has some powerful performances, particularly from the young Amin Maher. It occasionally offers insight on gender roles and religiosity in Iran (although nothing that hasn't been said before). However, I can't shake the feeling this is a movie anyone could make. Anyone can mount a couple consumer-grade cameras on the dashboard of a car, have their actors drive around without a script or director, then edit the footage down into 10 unconnected (and somewhat repetitive) segments and call it a movie. It may have been a bold approach, but it is ultimately a let-down.
This seemingly random collection of vignettes is so formally fascinating and flawlessly performed, I thought it was a strict documentary. But as he's proven before in Close-Up, Kiarostami has no problem walking all over the line between fiction and documentary. Those vignettes together present an emotionally complete arch. By giving us such a specific viewpoint of a modern Iranian woman navigating (literally and figuratively) through life, it actually becomes a relatable parable of human connection.
I realized its agenda attached & the constraints for making films in Iran. But this was just way too improvising. And my ears hurt...
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. The conceit of Ten is yawn-inducingly uncomplicated: ten conversations between Mania Akbari, a twice-married Iranian woman taxi driver, and her passengers over 48 hours, captured in long static shots from a digital camera secured to the dashboard. As Akbari traverses the city streets, she converses with, among others, her willful son, a jilted bride, a local prostitute and a woman travelling to prayer. What emerges is a fascinating mosaic of the role of women within a repressive regime. Yet, through the accumulation of telling details, a rounded backstory for Akbari slowly starts to coalesce, producing some extraordinary moments. Brilliantly performed, the effect is as direct and intimate as a confession, a halfway house between fiction and documentary. It's a master working in a minimalist mode, but no less thrilling for that.
Unlike any film you'll ever see.
I wanted to punch that kid so hard.
- <i>And Life Goes On...</i> (1992)
- <i>Through the Olive Trees</i> (1994)
- <i>Taste of Cherry</i> (1997)
- <i>The Wind Will Carry Us</i> (1999)
These four spectacles proved, among many things, one peculiar aspect: Kiarostami is the best director ever to film conversations and extraordinarily absorbing journeys inside cars. He is a fan of in-car scenes and the astonishing rural and natural landscapes surrounding the four wheels.
Well, why not make a whole film about it??
An idea sounding as insane as the degree of quality of the resulting film, <i>Ten</i> provides 10 insanely realistic journeys through the streets of Tehran seen through the eyes of a middle-class Tehran female car driver with many passengers, including her own son. The steps for this were easy:
1) Set two digital cameras on both sides of the car: the driver and the passenger.
2) Hire unprofessional actors to add a sense of realism.
3) Divide your feature into ten segments, the easiest rounded number to remember, and add social criticisms and heated discussions about marital and extramarital affairs, about family instability and the most obvious topic in Iranian cinema: the extremely insane, sexist, oppressive, chauvinistic, retarded and unfair life difficulties of women in modernity living in morally underdeveloped, close-minded and animalistic "societies" such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Truly, I had never seen Kiarostami so angry and explicit at his own culture against women!!
4) Let them speak. Let the "screenplay" be partially improvised and base it on personal experiences of the actual actors.
5) Be chosen by "Les Cahiers du cinéma" (France) as one of the 10 best pictures of 2000s (#10), ranked #47 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010, and Ranked #447 in Empire magazines "the 500 greatest movies of all time" in 2008.
Yup, easy steps.
Believe it or not, a film based 100% on dialogue can be brilliant, because the power of the spoken word is massive.
Kiarostami experiments for the very first time with the cheap look of digital cameras and what could have been, perhaps, his riskiest project if it had not been because of his renowned auteur reputation already established by the time. Performances were extraordinary considering the experience of the actors and the elements of improvisation allowed throughout its development, and the fact that the film made me wish to throw the kid in the middle of the highway to be run over by a cement trailer of 10 wheels so that he could stop screaming such ignorant and stupid nonsense proves that the cast achieved its purpose, and that little brat bastard can surely act!