Like Someone in Love -- A Free-Floating Masterpiece

                                       The Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami has really chosen the path of a world director. His last two movies are shot outside Iran in a language other than Persian. "Certified Copy" (2010) was fully shot in Central Italy, which was a parable about love. His latest film, "Like Someone in Love" (2012) was shot in Tokyo with a Japanese script and cast. The end result of these two movies tells us this: Kiarostami's talent for showcasing human poetry has no language boundaries. 

                                       Kiarostami is known for his minimalistic masterpieces. The placement of camera and the offhanded naturalistic dialogue may dwell well with art-house movie viewers rather than entertainment-seekers. His works demand our full attention and rewards us with philosophical questions and answers. The narrative concepts and the characters offered in his movies might serve as a entryway for further explorations and debates. 

                                       "Like Someone in Love" opens in a bar. Someone is talking but we can't see who since the camera is concentrated upon the bar's bustling visitors. The director eventually decides to turn the camera and change our perspective to watch Akiko (Rin Takanashi), who is talking to her jealous boyfriend and stressing upon the exams she has to take in the morning. Akiko is a student, who is also working as a call girl. She has concealed her moonlighting from her possessive and mildly violent boyfriend, Noriaki (Ryo Kase). Her boss forces to take on an important client. She agrees and turns off her phone but hears the series of voice-mails from her grandmother, who has been waiting all day to be picked up at a Tokyo train station. 

                                     Akiko, infact, passes by the statue where her grandmother is waiting. Later, she sleeps in the taxi and arrives to the suburbs. Her client is Takashi (Tadashi Okuno), an elderly retired professor and a hassled author. His apartment is stuffed with books. Takashi is enchanted by his visitor and sees her as a lost child rather than a call-girl. He feeds her soup and then tucks her in to sleep. Next day, he accidentally meets Akiko's boyfriend and becomes her loving grandfather. Noriaki asks the fake grandfather's permission to marry Akiko, while she is paralyzed with terror that her secret life will be discovered. 

                                    Like most of Kiarostami's films, "Like Someone in Love" can be understood/guessed only up to a point, from what the characters say, and what the characters say can be less revealing than what's left unsaid. Kiarostami has once said in an interview that, "I make one film as a filmmaker, but the audience, based on that film, makes 100 movies in their minds." That's the best way to describe this movie as it adheres more to an emotional rather than narrative logic. The film's title itself gives us a clue to what the film-maker is up to. The title resonates with all the characters, since they are only pursuing an illusion that only looks like love. Akiko's idea for love is muddled but she simply equates sex with money. Noriaki remains as a traditional boyfriend, who wants to control her by marrying. Takashi looks benevolent but we’re never sure about his investment is in these young people’s troubles. Also, the film's sudden ending raises more questions in a viewers mind. 

                                      Kiarostami often shows up vehicles and neon-lit streets to conceal more about the character's true feelings as they reveal. Reflections are once again used effectively by the director: windows, mirrors and the screens of turned-off TVs are used as narrative devices which convey or withheld emotions of each character. The guilt and nostalgia Akiko feels in the cab, when hearing her grandmother voice is played out wordlessly. The cab window reflects her drained face and then the camera turns away from her to register what she sees -- the same endless thread of flickering neon and soulless streets. 

                                      As Takashi, Okuno delivers an excellent performance. The stage actor, who is in his eighties, has played his first leading role in a film. Rin Takanashi's performance as Akiko feels well integrated into the story. She conveys a lot even in amidst the lustrously photographed reflections. Ryo Kase as Noriaki gives an aggressive as well as a sympathetic performance. 

                                     In "Like Someone in Love", the answers aren't obvious but it doesn't matter since Kirostami's intentions with this simple take is to make us think deeply, in a subconscious level. This movie is a cinematic equivalent of a novella, which offers a brief and fascinating glimpse into different lives. 


Like Someone in Love -- IMDb


Unknown said...

Evocative and emotional write-up. In fact, your review was a movie-in-motion for me.

Arun Kumar said...

@ Jini Fernandez, Thanks for the comment. Keep visiting the blog.

Ritesh Agarwal said...

I have a lot of respect for u arun as someone who has such a high amount of knowledge of world cinema. You are also a great critic n reviewer. Keep it up

Arun Kumar said...

@ Ritesh Agarwal, Thanks for your uplifting remark. Keep visiting the blog.