By this point, provincial Iran has become for Abbas Kiarostami what Monument Valley was for John Ford or New York for Woody Allen: The mere sight of it, shot from the proper angle, serves as an affirmation of what the filmmaker values most. The Wind Will Carry Us, perhaps the most beautifully shot of all his films, may also be the most reliant on the director's ability to use nature as both a setting and the ultimate means by which to underscore points. Continuing A Taste Of Cherry's drift toward the abstract and elemental, Wind tracks a meaningful week in the life of a man referred to as Engineer (Behzad Dourani). Following such directions as "turn left at the big tree on top of the hill," he travels to a remote village for reasons Kiarostami withholds for much of the film, but which are somehow related to the impending death of a woman reputed to be more than 100 years old. As Dourani's wait grows, so does his impatience, even as his situation allows him to study an environment in which life has remained unchanged for centuries. Still, at the top of the hill to which Dourani must drive every time he receives a call on his cell phone looms modernity in the form of a telecommunications tunnel being slowly dug by one man who seems to have taken up the task on his own. A consistently comic, exceptionally challenging, and deeply rewarding film, Wind finds Kiarostami again playing against expectations of plot and character. Late in the film, Dourani performs a simple action that forces a re-evaluation of everything that's come before. Is it possible to spend two hours observing a man and not know the first thing about him? To wonder, as he himself wonders, whether he's good or bad? Like Cherry, Wind draws its conclusions from simple homilies, but it does so after once again breathing life into them at the end of an examination of the eternal and the transient. Against the beauty and terror of eternity, and surrounded by both, simplicity may be all we need and the best we can hope for.

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