Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
NYFF ’12: Like Someone in Love
is a part of Asia, an obvious but convenient fact for Abbas Kiarostami. After the elegant Tuscan setting of Certified Copy, it seemed advisable to
avoid the evil “West” for his next project filmed outside his native Iran. It was probably fortuitous, considering the
official Iranian film establishment is indulging in a paroxysm of insanity,
withdrawing its official foreign language Academy Award submission in protest
of a youtube video only a handful of people saw, the very year after the
breakout victory of Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation. Yet, like Copy, there is still plenty of narrative
gamesmanship afoot in Kiarostami’s Like
Someone in Love (trailer
screens during the 50th New York Film Festival.
does not appear to be inclined towards emotional involvement, so her escorting
gig is probably a reasonable option to cover her college tuition. Putting off her boyfriend and blowing off her
visiting grandmother, she is about to meet a new client. However, retired professor Takashi is only
interested in the sort of chaste intimacy she constantly rejects. Nonetheless, she lets her guard down with the
old man, falling asleep in his flat. The
next morning he drives her to class, where their paths cross that of her
boyfriend and complications ensue.
clearly has an affinity for Japanese cinema, having paid tribute to Japanese auteur
Yasujiro Ozu with his cinematic-essay Five
Dedicated to Ozu. While there is
definitely a kernel of the great master’s work in the way Prof. Takashi relates
to Akiko, Someone is a distinctly
colder fish. In fact, it presents a
rather pessimistic view of humanity, compared to Ozu’s forgiving humanism.
an apparently simple story, Someone guards
its secrets vigilantly, which gets frustrating after time. Nonetheless, Kiarostami still coaxed some
excellent performances from his small ensemble, despite the language barrier. Rin Takanashi (also excellent in the
disturbing Isn’t Anyone Alive) takes
a star-making turn, so vulnerable yet such a passive aggressive presence as the
brittle Akiko. Conversely, Tadashi Okuno
nearly approaches the pathos of Ozu’s aging protagonists as the lonely
Stylishly lensed by Katsumi Yanagijima and
featuring a soundtrack of moody jazz classics (the most apt being Ellington’s “In
My Solitude” rather than Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of the song lending its
title to the film), Someone looks and
sounds great, almost lulling the audience into a hypnotic trance. Yet, even with the fine work from Takanashi
and Okuno, Kiarostami is just too demur and elliptical in his narrative
approach to fully engage viewers.
Accomplished in many ways, but certainly not a masterwork, Like Someone in Love is recommended
mainly for the filmmaker’s dedicated admirers when it screens again this coming
Monday (10/8) as a main slate selection of the 2012 NYFF.
Labels: Abbas Kiarostami, NYFF '12