Robert Beksinski’s review published on Letterboxd:
Abbas Kiarostami bends the medium of cinema and it subsequently places him in the upper echelons of not only Iranian cinema but international fame as well. Call it a documentary, a fictional film, a docudrama hybrid, whatever. What it is, is something else entirely, something new and unique to the medium of film. Something that genuinely challenges the perception of what is real and what is fiction.
There is no doubt that Kiarostami's execution in crafting Close-Up to be one of a kind but I still think the result is similar to that of a documentary regardless of if he filmed the majority in reenactment form (with the real life participants acting as themselves). He still fulfills the duties of documenting a real life account just in a more detailed, artistic, and first hand viewpoint with the reenactments. We see through the perception of the onlooker (ourselves, the audience), through the eyes of Kiarostami himself intrigued by the event and wanting to document its outlandishness as well as sympathize with the people affected (including Hossain), and lastly through Hossain Sabzian's viewpoint and the reflections of a forgotten and ignored man of society. In a way these multiple layers of reality and perceptions are akin to another experimental documentary that actually came long before Kiarostami's film in Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One. Not to discredit Kiarostami's film in any way despite the fact that they share similarities, both films also remain entirely different in content and purpose.
Close-Up remains remarkable by not being able to be restrained to one specific film form. It's more than just genre defying, it is simply indescribable within the medium. I can safely say it has the hallmarks of a documentary but that doesn't exclude the drama he films in the reenactments such that reflects the power of fictional filmmaking. The same goes for the courtroom scenes that at once displays humanity and understanding of a lonely and outcast individual but also challenges our perspective of the moral complexities of what it is to be human. It's no wonder the film earned such popularity and fame with the ground it covers in a shattering story.