Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Cast: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, Ryô Kase
Plot: In Tokyo, a young prostitute develops an unexpected connection with a widower over a period of two days.
Awards: Nom. for Palme d'Or (Cannes)
Rating: Not rated (likely to be PG13 for some mature themes).
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“Whatever will be will be.”
I think Abbas Kiarostami is a sage of cinema. One has to see his masterpiece Close-Up (1990) or Taste of Cherry (1997) to appreciate his greatness. He has done a number of films, most of which continue to be revered by the international film community, and all of which were shot in Iran. But what better way to continue to pique the interest of film enthusiasts and critics alike than to make two films outside of Iran.
The first, the French film Certified Copy (2010), was shot in Italy, with Juliette Binoche. I didn't enjoy it as much, but I appreciate it. His most recent film, Like Someone in Love, shot in Tokyo with a Japanese cast and crew, appeals to me more though it doesn't quite attain the heights of his earlier works.
It is a very simple story told in the most economical of fashion, in true Kiarostami style and sensibility. His shots are unelaborate – they include his trademark car interior shots and shots that focus intently on a character. The leading lady, Akiko (Rin Takanashi), is an aspiring student part-timing as a call girl. Her boss instructs her to visit an old client one night, and a relationship blossoms unexpectedly.
Like Someone in Love follows a seemingly straightforward storytelling trajectory, but Kiarostami never affords us the opportunity to see it unfold through a narrative of whole. By that, I mean we don't see or know everything. In fact, the film starts and ends ambiguously. Yet we are privy to the lives of these characters. The film boasts understated performances by Takanashi and Tadashi Okuno, the latter playing the old client. It is a tender film about the nature of love, desire and liking, but it is also a rueful one.
Early on in the film, we see Akiko in a cab, listening to the day's voicemails, which include her grandmother who comes to Tokyo for a day to try to find her. I think it is one of the most outstanding and emotional sequences in Kiarostami's oeuvre because he pushes us into a private space, which doesn't manifest itself physically anymore – we are in a cab with Akiko, and hearing her voicemail only.
In Kiarostami's Ten (2002), we are privy to the conversations of people in a car. But in this sequence in Like Someone in Love, the physical space in the cab thins out into nothingness. As a result, we are privy not just to what Akiko is listening to, but what she's thinking in her head. In other words, her thoughts are our thoughts, whatever that may be.
This is Kiarostami taking a step forward in exploring the relationship and dynamics between not just private space and public space (a key thematic tenet of his cinema), but also of private physical space and private psychological space. In sum, Like Someone in Love is not a great Kiarostami film, but that doesn't mean it is any less important than any of his other works.
Verdict: Shot in Japan with a Japanese cast, Iranian master Kiarostami gives us a rueful but tender film about the nature of love, desire and liking.
GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)
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