Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Kiarostami’s 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 might have seemed
advisable to avoid the evil “West” for his next project filmed outside his
native Iran. Yet, the simple fact
remains—to make films that reflect his personal aesthetic vision Kiarostami has
had to accept a state of de facto exile.
Like Copy, there are striking
images and plenty of narrative gamesmanship afoot in Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love (trailer here), which opens
today in New York.
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 strange tribute to
Japanese auteur Yasujiro Ozu with his non-narrative 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
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
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 and fans of Japanese cinema in need
of a fix when it opens today (2/15) in New York, including the Landmark
Sunshine downtown and the Walter Reade Theater, in conjunction with the FSLC’s
Kiarostami retrospective, which concludes this weekend.
Labels: Abbas Kiarostami, Rin Takanashi