Makhmalbaf's film elides fact and fiction, vérité and fantasy, and subtly points up the high esteem and selfish hopes invested in the director by his admirers. A former police officer travels to Tehran to audition for a role in director Makhmalbaf next film. The two recognise each other as pre-revolutionary opponents from the early '70s: the 17-year-old Makhmalbaf had attempted to disarm the policeman, stabbing him, and receiving a bullet wound and a prison sentence for his pains. Unlike Makhmalbaf's, the ex-cop's scars have yet to heal. Out of curiosity the two men agree to collaborate on a film about the incident, each casting, coaching and directing his own younger self in a series of turns which take on meaning for both sides and generations involved. A merry analogist, Makhmalbaf draws a wealth of parallels, between ages and eras, hopes and fears. His approach to narrative can appear cryptic, his metaphors dense, but it seems churlish to quarrel with a film that sends one character searching a bazaar, asking of bystanders, 'Have you seen a ray of sunlight here?'
Cast and crew