Like Someone In Love

(Japan, France, Iran, 2012, 109 mins, DCP)
In Japanese with English subtitles
Director:
CAST Tadashi Okuno, Rin Takanashi, Ryo Kase

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Akiko (Rin Takanashi) is a beautiful, reserved young student who works as a prostitute on the side. Takeshi (Denden) is her client, an elderly academic who could be her grandfather. Noriaki (superstar Ryo Kase) is Akiko’s verbose, insecure boyfriend, unaware of her double life.

At least that’s who they are as Abbas Kiarostami’s Tokyo-set film sets up its narrative. Yet as always with the Iranian master’s key works, identity is a slippery, mysterious thing. In Kiarostami’s universe—and in ours—relationships are infinitely elastic and subject to context that can twist unexpectedly, upending the meaning of who we are entirely. While the film progresses, its characters refuse to play out their roles in the usual manner. Even the director, you might argue, evades and resists his usual role.

The pleasures of Kiarostami’s latest film are not confined to intellectual quandary and the life of the mind, however. Filmed by cinematographer Katsumi Yanagijima, (who, as Takeshi Kitano’s longtime collaborator [Sonatine, Outrage], has plenty of experience in capturing the visual complexity of modern Tokyo), and made with a crew featuring key members of Kiarostami’s usual team, Like Someone In Love is a film full of beauty. One of Kiarostami’s references here is Ozu (in the same manner that his previous work, the Tuscany-set Certified Copy, referenced Bertolucci), but unlike Ozu’s deliberate, low-key works, Like Someone in Love is seeded with visual set-pieces that have been constructed with a stunning technical virtuosity.

"Every shot — everything you see, and everything you don’t — imparts a disturbing and thrilling sense of discovery." AO Scott, New York Times

"A sly, teasing riff on the heart’s irrational stirrings… You emerge elated and slightly dazed…. But the movie’s sense of immutable desire resonates well after the lights have come up." Scott Foundas, Village Voice