Plot: Earning his keep at a photography studio where he also sleeps, an orphan aspires to be closer to the object of his affection, an older girl from a higher social class.
An adolescent boy, old for his years like so many of Kiarostami’s (or Iran’s) working children, juggles a job as a photographer’s assistant, a first crush, and the urge to sample adulthood’s temptations (cigarettes and movies). This beautiful exercise in storytelling virtually without words is shot with the crispness and stark contrasts of Kiarostami’s still photography. But this vista teems with humanity—not only that of the boy, who is essentially without family (he sleeps at the photography lab), but of the adults he encounters (and who invariably let him down) on the urban pathways he courses. In his young actor, Kiarostami found a face and soul made for the screen. —Judy Bloch