Canny and sublime, Five comprises five seemingly single long takes, four of a beach on the Caspian Sea and one of a beach in Spain, on which Kiarostami observes a universe of change. The cast includes pedestrians on a boardwalk, dogs, ducks, a piece of driftwood, and moonlight reflected on stormy waters. Kiarostami dedicated the film to Yasujiro Ozu on the centennial of his birth; both the Iranian and Japanese masters of the moving image have excelled at revealing a constantly changing world through exquisitely framed images and deceptively simple premises.
Five's soundtrack has no dialogue, but it is intricately mixed and includes incidental sound, completing a film that is at once meditative and filled with the very real drama, humor, and vitality of life. The work beautifully mines the potential of digital imagery and sound while investigating the limits of documentary practice. Viewed patiently and attentively, the world in the film reveals itself to be artfully manipulated: the ducks had to be "guided" in their onscreen performances (to great comic effect) and the concluding part of Five was recorded over several months to include numerous breathtaking full moons. Based on the supposition that the way we view a work changes what we see, Five is intended by the director to be exhibited as a single projection in a theater as well as an installation in five discrete parts.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 262.