Image for Shirin

Dir. Abbas Kiarostami

Iran 2008 | Colour | 90 mins | Cert PG

Cast: Golshifteh Farahani, Mahnaz Afshar, Niki Karimi, Juliette Binoche

Abbas Kiarostami's latest feature takes a strikingly simple, daringly innovative but surprisingly affecting approach to filmic storytelling.

Shirin is the heroine of a 12th-century Persian poem, a princess courted by two men. And Shirin is a film within-this-film which we hear but do not see; as dramatic dialogue, epic music and echoing sound-effects chart the princess’s fate, we see in a cinema, separately in a flowing montage of close-ups, around 100 women responding to the fiction we’re listening to. 

Does Shirin’s tale move us because of what we hear or what we see? How do the events of her story relate to the women’s lives outside the cinema? Kiarostami’s film succeeds as a celebration of the expressive beauty of the human face, as a sly act of illusion (all the women are actresses, one of them Juliette Binoche), and as another of his profoundly resonant experiments with the seen and the unseen (or, perhaps, the unshowable). Quite extraordinary. 

- Geoff Andrew

Available on: DVD, DCP

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