Ten sequences examine the emotional lives of women at significant junctures.
Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's extraordinary film might at first seem daunting. It consists of ten numbered episodes, each one set in a car being driven by a woman who is sometimes seen, sometimes not. Small DV cameras attached to the car's dashboard unblinkingly observe either the driver or the passenger. For example, in the first, and longest, segment we see only the passenger, the son of the unnamed driver. He's full of anger about his mother's divorce from his father and her subsequent remarriage. Other segments reveal the driver, an attractive woman with a mind of her own. Driving her sister in episode two, she talks about the problems of bringing up children. Later she gives lifts to a religious old woman, to a prostitute, and also to a young woman who is having a troubled relationship with her fiance. Gradually, a portrait of the woman driver, and her place in society, emerges.
Kiarostami's approach here might seem limited, but in fact 10 proves to be one of his major works. Through these oblique encounters we discover a very great deal about this woman's life, the pressures she faces on a day to day basis in a society where men - unfaithful men mostly, according to the prostitute - dominate. As admirers of Kiarostami will know, he has always loved shooting in cars, think of films like And Life Goes On, The Taste of Cherries and The Wind Will Carry Us, all with their lengthy scenes shot from the dashboard. 10 is his most extreme example, and a major achievement which is both very poignant and, at times, surprisingly funny.