NYFF Review: Abbas Kiarostami's Like Someone In Love
If you were worried that the critically exalted Certified Copy was the beginning of a new era of accessible Abbas Kiarostami efforts, fear not, as Like Someone In Love is a deep cut that rejects typical mainstream movie tropes with its action-eschewing shot coverage, unhurried pacing and meandering narrative structure. The result is a slow-building but confident and thought-provoking exploration of the one-sided nature of love.
The Iranian auteur's latest drama unfolds over the course of a day in contemporary Japan, in and around Tokyo, and centers on Akiko (Rin Takanashi), a soft-spoken and girlish university student who works at night as a high-end escort. While many filmmakers who focus their features on a prostitute use it as a tool to delve in the potential depravity of that profession, Kiarostami ignores the scandalous details of her trade and instead uses it to make her a symbol of an object to be fallen in love with. Akiko is surrounded by people who long for her love, from her visiting grandmother, who desperately wants to share a meal with her, to her brutish boyfriend, who doesn't know about her moonlighting but loathes her secretive nature, and the widowed sociology professor (Tadashi Okuno) who shares the film's focus after the duo share an awkward "date." But for all their professed love and kindnesses, Akiko—though not cruel—is elusive in returned love.
True to Kiarostami's minimalist style, the pacing is pensive—sometimes frustratingly slow—as characters perform mundane tasks of everyday life in real time. Likewise the naturalistic dialogue and performance style underlines the reality of this web of love he weaves, giving unrequited love a sense of dignity as the film reveals it is an experience that is shared by everyone from the lauded professor, to the menacing mechanic, to the chatty next door neighbor. Ultimately, Like Someone in Love is not for everyone, but is sure to be appreciated by Kiarostami fans and the patient art house crowd. Like Someone in Love is now playing at the New York Film Festival.
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