Where is My Friend’s House? Review

Mistakenly taking his schoolmates notebook, the guilt and fear Ahmed (Babek Ahmed Poor) feels for his accidental actions is instantly engaged with. Where is My Friend’s House? compels its audience to tap into that spirit of childhood they have since departed with. What fear we must have felt for issues that, in our adulthood, are trivial and happenstance. We have no scope of culpability as children, and Abbas Kiarostami’s direction here makes such a grand effort of discussing such an innocence. The admirable efforts of Ahmed to set the world right through one minor act of kindness takes us through the streets of Koker.

As we walk through these streets and interact with the various strangers, both helpful and harmful, one theme becomes certainly clear. Obsession. How it takes hold of someone and how many will go to great lengths to accomplish something that, to the average viewer, would seem like such a minuscule achievement. For Ahmed, though, delivering the notebook to a friend who needs to complete his homework is paramount. His understanding of the harsh punishments that will fall upon his friend are made clear in the opening, and, fearing the punishment himself, Ahmed journeys across town to deliver this book.

Kiarostami’s direction throughout is solid and consistent. Touring us through the streets, he paints such a dense narrative, littered with individuals who leave their mark on the story. We never really return to these characters, nor do we know anything about them, but their personality is immediate and striking, their response to Ahmed and his quest tells us more about the character than any intrinsic backstory could. Their names are not important, but the impression is striking and engaging. How they relay their temperament to our leading character matches the pacing of the film wholly well, Kiarostami captures intricate realism, where the oddities of life soon escape into a generally nice backdrop of alleyways and unknown places that Ahmed must wander through.

A hard film to love, but one to appreciate for its narrative complexities, despite its essentially barebones story. Where is My Friend’s House? is an exceptional bit of film that takes the core brilliance of Kiarostami’s direction and applies it to a story that has no real heft to it. There isn’t anything here of utter importance or stern brilliance, but that is, to some extent, the beauty of the piece. The film thrives on its simplistic touch, and its ability to shine through as a rewarding character study relying on morality and innocence is as potent and enjoyable a piece as you could expect.

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