Thus what Kiarostami presents us with is a world where nothing is quite as it appears. The lines between fact and fiction become blurred, especially in the mind of Sabzian who maintains the pretence that he is Makhmalbaf. Kiarostami has always shown an interest in "cinema" in his films - his later 'Through the Olive Trees' was about the making of an actual Kiarostami film in many ways. Is Kiarostami suggesting cinema is a chronicler of real life (hence the pseudo-documentary nature of them) or that they're distinctive entities? The media are partly shown to be culpable for the fraud of Sabzian too. Their constant reporting on Makhmalbaf surely made his life appear glamorous to Sabzian and therefore encouraged his deception when the opportunity arose.
Sabzian's motivations though aren't nefarious - he is a poor and humble man whose wife has left him and he lives with his mother. He has no hopes and ambitions and contemporary Iranian society has no obvious place for him. He has no job and self-esteem and admits that the fraud gave him the only chance in his life to feel important and to be respected - people actually listened to him and his opinions. Sabzian (as Makhmalbaf) explains that he is visiting a family because directors should show humility and live closely with those people he wishes to film. Sabzian is a man who would live a normal life if given the chance. His fraud was born out of desperation. Kiarostami's ultimate display of sympathy is one of the final shots of the film, as he rides with Sabzian on a motorcycle before visiting the man he impersonated. 'Close Up' is a shining example of Kiarostami's humanism and another superb demonstration of his interests in the distinction/convergence between cinema and life. 4.5/5