Edgar Cochran’s review published on Letterboxd:
Life, and Nothing More, more properly titled also as And Life Goes On... takes place in the aftermath of the earthquake of Guilan that killed more than 50,000 people. This place happens to be near the location of Where is the Friend's Home? (1987). Therefore, the director of this movie decides to travel to this area with the purpose of finding out the fate of the two key characters in the Iranian modern classic.
But... The director of that movie was Abbas Kiarostami, wasn't he? Well, not according to this film!!
The importance of this movie in particular is extremely massive because of too many reasons to be counted... and yet, there I go.
a) It represents the turning point in Kiarostami's vision, as his visual style of compelling landscapes and in-car conversations begin to shape the auteur vision of the internationally acclaimed Iranian master. This style will be evident in the impressionistic existentialism of Taste of Cherry (1997), and in the psychological poetry of The Wind Will Carry Us (1999).
b) It is the first attempt by Kiarostami to take his meta-film concept to a whole other level. Being the second installment in the Koker trilogy, which refers to the town of Koker in which the protagonist of Where is the Friend's Home lived, you will notice that this wasn't filmed in immediate continuity after the first movie, but Through the Olive Trees (1994) was. In my personal opinion, the documentary Homework (1989) and Close-Up (1990), his absolutely groundbreaking and endlessly brilliant masterpiece, were the neccesary stepping stones for finally merging, for the very first time, the concepts of reality in documentaries and fiction in movies perfectly for the very first time.
c) He is playing with the concepts of reality and fantasy.... Oh boy, here I go with my Levels dissection technique of reality and meta-reality again! Boring, I know:
+ Level 1: Where is the Friend's Home?.- Back in 1987, the whole world saw a minimalist movie of heart-moving, humble and tender proportions. It was the first significant movie of the master by that time. By this time, the only levels in existence was this one, and Level 2, which referred to Kiarostami breaking the movie. Yet And Life Goes On... dared to break the second level from a meta-reality perception.
+ Level 2: And Life Goes On....- Finding the protagonist of the previous movie and dissecting Kiarostami's psychology through his alter ego Farhad Kheradmand are the most genius achievements of this thought-provoking and visually hypnotizing spectacle. To what extent is the film documented? To what extent is the film scripted? To what extent does the protagonist reflect Kiarostami?
These answers can be obtained with some factual research and interviews, but not essentially obtainable within this film realm, and yet, despite its tragic aftermath imagery and inert rocky settings with some astonishing green hills, the film seems dead in the surface and yet emanates a substantial amount of life that is capable of rejuvenating the film appreciation of the modern viewer, so long submerged in Hollywood standards. The landscapes are a contradiction of destruction and beauty, like an impossible coexistence. Is it possible, then, for reality and fantasy to coexist? It turns out that both, in fact, share a scary degree of interchangeableness, which is the main idea of the film.
And yet, that idea is communicated through a film, not a documentary. What a fascinating, self-assuring paradox!