Abbas Kiarostami’s Final Film, Now in Theaters

On Film / In Theaters — Feb 2, 2018

Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami was working on his final film project before he passed away in 2016. Built out of the moments just before and after a photograph is taken, 24 Frames brings to life twenty-four still images in a series of four-and-a-half-minute digitally animated vignettes. The film, which opens today at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center, serves as a poignant opportunity for critics to reflect on the meditative grace that has defined the director’s greatest work and the thought-provoking ways in which he combined his passions for cinema and photography throughout his career. Here’s a roundup of what’s been written about it so far:

  • In the Village Voice, Michael Atkinson writes that, for a number of decades, Kiarostami was “the great living film artist.” He goes on to note that, “free as it may seem to be of intention or auteurist maneuver, 24 Frames is as explicitly an expression of his will to frame the world as anything he’d made.”
  • 24 Frames immediately communicates the power of the theater experience, in the way that so many of Kiarostami’s movies can,” writes David Sims for the Atlantic. “You can’t background the image as you might if you were watching at home, can’t glance at your phone or skip ahead out of boredom. You’re compelled to search the image, to reflect on ways it might speak to you specifically, to ponder why the filmmaker thought to include certain elements, or to just bask in its atmosphere.”
  • At BOMB, Steve Macfarlane calls the film “a working-out of depth constraints, a nesting doll of spaces and diegeses . . . 24 Frames never requires you to ask where you should be looking, yet ambient mystery pervades everything.”
  • Over at RogerEbert.com, Godfrey Cheshire—who will join Kiarostami’s son Ahmad for a Q&A at the Film Society tonight—notes how the filmmaker “crafts a bounteous collection of shorts that seem designed to show how much expressiveness can be packed into four and a half minutes, as well how much cohesiveness can be rendered in the whole.”
  • For Reverse Shot, Keith Uhlich describes the film as occupying “an ever-evolving space between living and dying, between purgatory and possibility—appropriate for a movie that, in short, is about bringing a series of still images to life.”
  • 24 Frames is “an exceptionally beautiful place for his career to finish,” writes Scott Tobias at NPR. It’s “conceptually audacious and adventurous yet a simple, peaceful space to appreciate his artistry.”

Below, take a look at the official trailer for the film: