Sex, Lies and Kiarostami: Like Someone in Love 

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Like Someone in Love
Directed by Abbas Kiarostami

So subtle and unrushed are Abbas Kiarostami's films that you could be forgiven for over-looking the legendary Iranian director as a mischievous master of ruse. Delaying information through narrative misdirection and undermining visual certainty through challenging representations of space, Kiaro-stami consistently denies our ability to understand his characters or to know their stories—even throwing into question our very desire to do so.

He last pulled the rug out from under the audience in 2010 with Certified Copy, a sui generis experiment in which a seemingly straightforward romance becomes two separate if related films through an “impossible” mutation of its lead roles. Like Someone in Love, Kiarostami’s latest, isn’t nearly as audacious as Copy, yet it also offers a gradually insidious consideration of deception and duplicity. Set in Tokyo, the film opens with a lengthy establishing shot of a high-class restaurant where a vague conversation takes place somewhere unlocatable. The restaurant turns out to be the headquarters of an escort service, the conversation a one-sided, offscreen phone denial by Akiko (Rin Takanashi), who must fake out jealous, suspicious boyfriend Noriaki (Ryo Kase) to keep him ignorant of her illicit job.

Avoiding her patiently adoring grandmother, Akiko pays a professional visit to the elderly Takashi (Tadashi Okuno). The gentle writer and translator eventually becomes embroiled in Akiko and Noriaki’s relationship, first as an accomplice in concealing her double life, then as a feeble shield against the young man’s humiliated rage. Employing his signature tricks (endless long takes, retroactive point-of-view shots) and motifs (car interiors), Kiarostami gauges not so much the parameters of cinematic manipulation and artifice (though that’s here, too) as those of everyday honesty and fraud. When can we lie, and when should we lie? Just as Akiko—at once the model for an enticing advert and the likeness of a masterpiece canvas—creates a multiplicity of identities, so does Like Someone suggest several divergent, uncertain answers.

Opens February 15

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