He never returns. The pair circle around each other; she is curious and the screenwriter is wary, anxious that Melika is a spy. Later, thieves break in through the villa's glass doors and ransack the place. At this point, Panahi, recognisable to aficionados, steps into the frame and the film changes direction. Suddenly, Closed Curtain focuses on the reality for Panahi, an acclaimed auteur who is currently banned from filmmaking in his country and lives under house arrest. The closed curtain represents Iran's censorship of cinema, its repression of creativity, as well as the state's control of ordinary lives. The message is clear – Iran is a prison. A reminder of Iran's previous freedom comes with shots of the seventies style home bar, where now only water is served. Shattered glass is symbolic of the state's cataclysmic destruction of artistic creativity. Closed Curtain also interrogates questions of identity: where does Panahi belong – in Iran or in exile abroad, where his films are celebrated?
A neighbour suggests that there is more to life than work and Panahi responds "those things are foreign to me." Melika believes suicide is better than living behind closed curtains. She comes to represent the black cloud of depression that hangs over Panahi. She fills his thoughts and tries to lure him into taking his own life by walking into the sea, suggesting the drowning of himself and his imagination. Cinematographer Mohamed Reza Jahanpanah's brilliant framing, the use of images on phone cameras, the playing of film backwards and the inventive use of light and shade are impressive. This is an eloquent and memorable film about an authoritarian state's constraints on artistic expression. Since making the film co-director Partovi and Moghadam have been banned from travelling; for anyone interested in artistic freedoms, Closed Curtain is a must see.