Where Is My Friend's House? ★★★

Maybe my expectations were too big for my second Kiarostami, the first being the genre-bending, wall-breaking "Close-Up," but for a simple story with simple stakes, it's still a good watch. "Where is My Friend's House?" is effective because it taps into that childhood fear of authority that still makes you shiver when you see the poor kid balling his eyes out in the middle of class and the awkwardly silent empathy that comes with it, from both his classmates and the audience. From then, it's just hoping Ahmed is able to return the notebook so that the film doesn't end in the same harsh position as the first. The landscapes and building where Ahmed journeys feel carefully picked, a sense that the camera is just as invested as the audience to see if Ahmed is able to return that. I can only imagine the power a child can see when they see Ahmed journey in a world where maybe the adults that kids always have to listen to aren't always right, that sometimes they don't truly understand, and having that strange feeling that the world is more unsure than one thinks as first. The capabilities of a good kid are always underestimated and Kiarostami seems to want to set the record straight on how far they can go in the name of kindness. Maybe there's a cultural context I'm missing that will really help put the pieces the together, but there's still a timelessness and a universality that Kiarostami really taps into in a special way with this film.

Still doesn't help the brutally slow pacing that makes an 80 minute film feel like 580 minutes, though. Yeesh.

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