NYFF: Abbas Kiarostami’s ‘Like Someone in Love’

The Iranian director sets his latest film in Japan (in Japanese) with newcomers. The pervasive discomfort throughout manages to linger after the film ends, but the viewer is left to determine the conclusion.

With Close-Up (1990) Criterion blu-ray edition sitting on my shelf, unopened, and Certified Copy (2010) in my Netflix queue, unwatched, I decided I should still go see Abbas Kiarostami’s newest movie, Like Someone in Love at the press screening at the 50th New York Film Festival. What I decided is that the film will play well with an audience whose taste is for independent or art films and it’s rather quick ending may leave people guessing. On the flip side, this abrupt ending may leave a more casual movie-goer wondering why so much tension is left unresolved.

Though Kiarostami selected relatively novice actors for the roles of Akiko (Rin Takanashi) and Takashi (Tadashi Okuno), and the Iranian director made the film in Japanese (set in Japan), he still ensured his film works on a universal level. The actors don’t necessarily need to speak, they wear their hearts are on their sleeves so to speak. Early on, we see Akiko in a taxi listen to voice mail messages from her grandmother and, already knowing the sad decision she has made, we sympathize with the guilt weighing down her heart.

This theme isn’t the main thrust of the story, though it reoccurs, and in fact it’s better to not go looking for one. Speaking after the film, Kiarostami explained that he doesn’t have a specific story, there are multiple messages. One thing the director does however is imbue his film with a pervasive discomfort. We are concerned for the mental and physical well-being of the characters, all the way through to the abrupt ending. And from there, no one can tell you how to feel.

Read “Imparting the Impulse” a conversation with Kiarostami, over at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s webpage.

RATING 6 / 10