There isn’t a single boring moment in Abbas Kiarostami’s Five, but it’s difficult to convince people of this when the “protagonists” of the film are, in order of appearance, a piece of driftwood, the crashing surf and a railing, sunbathing dogs silhouetted against a glaringly bright sea, a platoon of ducks walking one way and then the other, and finally, the moon reflected in a pond just before a rainstorm. (After giving her this synopsis, my friend Jane paused for a beat, then said, “You really need to start dating again.”)
In Ten, Abbas Kiarostami provides the viewer with the most spartan of setups: one car, one woman, two camera angles, ten dialogues. We — by way of the lone camera mounted on the dashboard — follow a beautiful divorcee driving in a car. She picks up ten passengers, one after the other, in ten different vignettes — a prostitute, a jilted friend, her sister, a stranger on her way to a mausoleum, and her precocious, frighteningly articulate son — and takes the audience along for a ride through the streets of Tehran.