The Film (4/5)
I have been told for years by friends and film enthusiast aware of my passion for minimalist, character driven cinema such as the work of Jim Jarmusch, Aki Kaurismaki, John Cassavetes, and Yosujiro Ozu that I need to dig into the work of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. Kiarostami began his career alongside the earliest filmmakers of the Iranian New Wave. He rose to international prominence in the early 1990's with films such as his unofficial Koker Trilogy (Where is the Friend's Home?, And Life Goes On, Through the Olive Trees), and the 1997 film Taste of Cherry. However, his work such as it is has eluded me until this film.
Like Someone in Love is a beautiful film told in a very simple manner. There is not so much a story to the film as there is a situation, and that situation allows it's trio of characters to naturally emote, and generate in depth discussions. The film with it's cross generational characters, Japanese setting, the simplicity of Kiarostami's direction, and writing channels the work of Yosujiro Ozu whose work such as Late Spring and Tokyo Story frequently showcased issues with the generational divide.
In those films the divide usually occurred within one family, with Like Someone in Love Kiarostami shows the divide within family, and outside of. The film begins with Akiko wanting to spend time with her Grandmother as she feels it's her duty, but also feeling as if she would rather not. She listens to her Grandmother's messages from her day with both sadness and cold separation on her cell phone as she approaches Takashi's residence. With Takashi she expects to grant him a simple sexual encounter, and when he wants less (and in a way more) than that she knows no way to respond than with coldness.
Like Someone in Love takes Kiarostami to Japan to create a simple, but elegant tale of a part-time prostitute, Akiko played by Rin Takanashi who starts the film trying to persuade her pimp, Hiroshi, to allow her to have the night off to spend the night with her Grandmother who is visiting Tokyo for that evening only. Her request is refused, and she is put into a cab and taken to the home of a man who is described to her as a very important client. This very important client turns out to be Hiroshi's former sociolgy professor from college Takashi. Takashi is an elderly gentleman who from all appearances is more interested in quality companionship than sex. Akiko, unfortunately does not appear to get these signals, and attempts to undress for him, and also refuses his offer of soup from her native region before passing out on his bed for the evening. The next morning he offers to take her back into the city for her classes, where things begin to get complicated. Akiko's boyfriend is waiting for her before class begins, and starts a fight with her, he then takes notice of Takashi in his car waiting for her, and gets in to begin questioning him. He takes on the role of her Grandfather, but before the day ends he'll find out the truth, and things will get very troublesome.
Criterion presents Like Someone in Love in a splendid 1:66:1 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer. The transfer looks absolutely fantastic with excellent color reproduction, fine detail, and black levels. There are some soft spots, but these are probably inherent in the digital master of the film.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA 3.0 like the video the audio is exceptional. The dialogue, music, and effects are clean, clear, and audible throughout. I did not detect any issues with the audio.
Criterion have put together a simple, but effective extras package for Like Someone in Love. There is a trailer, a booklet with an essay, and a 47 minute making of with participation by Kiarostami himself.
Like Someone in Love is a simple, deep, and wonderful film from Abbas Kiarostami. It also happens to be the first of the director's films I have ever seen, and it certainly won't be the last. The Blu-ray from Criterion looks and sound spectacular (no shock there), and the extra though limited are quite nice. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.