Through the Olive Trees (1994)

Through the Olive Trees (1994)

Abbas Kiarostami plays with reality and fiction in the bemusing final installment of the Koker trilogy

The Very Best

8.2

Movie

France, Iran
Persian
Drama
1994
ABBAS KIAROSTAMI
Abbas Kiarostami, Farhad Kheradmand, Hossein Rezai
103 min

TLDR

It’s absolutely ridiculous yet brilliant to make a film, and then to make another film make the previous one fictional, and then to make a film centered on a pair of characters in the film that makes the first film fictional.

What it's about

During the production of a film, the local stonemason-turned-male lead pines for the woman cast as his wife, much to the dismay of the director caught in the middle.

The take

We’ve heard of films within a film, but it’s crazy how many layers Through the Olive Trees operates in. Writer-director Abbas Kiarostami completes his metanarrative journey in the Koker trilogy through a slice-of-life comedy about a couple in the periphery of the previous installment And Life Goes On. As the young man Hossein repeats his plea for marriage to Tahereh, casted as his wife, the insistence can be slightly grating, but in doing so, the everyday dealings of the Iranian village hint at what’s underneath– the earthquake from four years ago that still shapes their lives, the socioeconomic and culture barriers, and the mirrored struggle of creating the artistic vision of the film within the film.

What stands out

The ambiguous ending. In ending the film this way, Kiarostami puts the answer up in the air, but also frees both the audience and Tahereh to give their true response, one that’s unburdened by cultural norms, peer pressure, and saving face, something that is only possible alone and at a distance.

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