Riding on a bus, a middle-aged woman named Mahrokh Ahankhah spies a man reading a book based on a film she enjoyed, directed by famed Iranian auteur Mohsen Makhmalbaf. When she asks where he purchased it, he says he is Makhmalbaf himself, which delights Ahankhah, even though she's not sure why such an eminent man would need public transportation. When she takes her new friend home to meet her family, the Ahankhahs face another surprise: The director wants to use them and their home in his new film, House Of The Spider. Time drags on, money is borrowed, and eventually the Ahankhah family, suspecting fraud, summons the police. They arrest the pseudo-Makhmalbaf, who is later revealed to be Hossain Sabzian, a sporadically employed printing-press employee. This true story provided the basis for Abbas Kiarostami's playful, profound 1990 film Close-Up, one of the director's best, which now makes its debut on video. Begun in place of another film because Kiarostami became so haunted by the story that he couldn't sleep at night, Close-Up alternates footage of Sabzian's trial with reenactments of the events leading up to it—from the fateful bus ride to the arrest—all performed by the participants themselves. In time, it becomes clear that the title is something of a gag, because the closer Kiarostami gets to his subject, the deeper the film plunges into a hall of mirrors. Claiming only an interest in cinema and a deep identification with Makhmalbaf's work, Sabzian offers his best defense in a statement as succinct as it is vague: "Legally, it might be an appropriate charge. But morally, it is not." At once pitiable and mysterious, Sabzian remains the unknowable center of a film that works as a kind of Thin Blue Line in reverse. Close-Up clouds the mystery rather than solving it, as it works toward a remarkable final sequence that reveals cinema's limits as a means of conveying concrete truths while demonstrating just how deep it can plunge into meaning.