Magazine article Screen International

Like Someone in Love

Magazine article Screen International

Like Someone in Love

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: Abbas Kiarostami. France-Japan. 2012. 109mins

It must have bugged Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami that, with Certified Copy, he had strayed perilously close to making a commercial film. If so, he's set the record straight and saved his reputation as an abstruse, impenetrable arthouse director with this Japanese-set follow-up, which was greeted with a mix of bafflement and boos at its Cannes competition press screening.

Kiarostami fails to embed the film's visual, aural and symbolic games in a narrative that satisfies on the level of story and character.

Admittedly, this reaction had much to do with the abrupt ending, which feels like a random cut in the middle of a very long second act. For much of the rest of the film Kiarostami intrigues us as he weaves a carefully framed, sometimes funny, sometimes tender shaggy-dog story about (among other things) an encounter between an elderly Japanese professor and a young escort girl. Like many of Kiarostami's films, Like Someone In Love is at least in part about the way people tell stories and stories tell people, but the way the theme is developed here seems less emotionally and ethically resonant than in, say, Ten or The Wind Will Carry Us.

And although there is much to chew on along the way, Like Someone In Love is still a long, slow slog, in comparison with which a film like A Taste Of Cherry seems positively adrenalin-fuelled. Compensations for patient cineastes include the film's exquisite mise-en-scène and its tendency to generate post-screening discussions on what the... it was all about. But these are straws for distributors to grasp at, and the film is unlikely to generate anything like the business drummed up by Certified Copy.

Taking its title from an Ella Fitzgerald song which features as one of four tracks on the film's jazz-based diegetic soundtrack, Like Someone In Love opens with a long fixed-camera scene set in a bar somewhere, we guess, in urban Japan. Somebody is talking on the phone, apparently to her boyfriend, but it's not until well into the scene that a cut and change of angle reveals the speaker to be Akiko (Takanashi), a pretty young thing who, it transpires, is working as a call girl for bar owner Hiroshi (Denden), though she's a university student by day. Hiroshi insists that she should spend the night with a special client that he wants her to meet; she tells him she has to meet her grandmother, who is in town for the day and keeps leaving messages on Akiko's answerphone. …

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