Like Someone In Love
In "Certified Copy," director Abbas Kiarostami gave us an intellectualized movie-mystery: he showed us a man and a woman walking through a cityscape for a full day, and never revealed if they were a married couple, a pair of strangers, or fitting of any romantic label in-between. He forced us to read their faces and their words, rather than their backstories. His latest feature, "Like Someone in Love" - released quite recently onto Blu-ray via the Criterion Collection - brings such questions into the text itself. This movie is explicitly about the ways that certain relationships sub in for, and thus can be mistaken for, completely separate ones.
Here, Kiarostami’s camera is trained on Japanese call-girl Akiko. As part of tonight’s work, she’s visiting kindly professor-type Takashi, spurning her own grandmother in the process. When Takashi drops her off at school the next day, they run into Akiko’s naive boyfriend Noriaki - which necessitates that Takashi begin playing the role of Akiko’s grandfather, rather than her customer. (To accentuate the mystery, Kiarostami faces us with an ellipses that muddles whether or not Akiko or Takashi ever had sec in the first place.) These false roles that the group plays - obliging prostitute, fake grandfather, "caring" boyfriend (Noriaki’s purely selfish, in fact) - constantly shift and slide. Kiarostami seems to be suggesting that identity itself is a game we play in front of others, one that never ends.
The Blu-ray release doesn’t offer much in terms of literal explanations, but the one extra feature that is included on the disc offers myriad insights, regardless. It’s listed as a standard "making of opthe film," documentary, but the near 50-minute feature doubles as a long-form interview with the now-legendary Kiarostami: he ruminates on a litany of topics throughout, from the reasons he selected Japan as the film’s setting (this is only his second film made outside Iran,) to why he prefers shooting digitally (as opposed to via celluloid film). Kiarostami isn’t exactly an elusive figure, but this opportunity to hear him talk on all topics - as with any other - shouldn’t be missed.
Anyway, we don’t need textual explanations from the man who made the movie. Kiarostami’s film doesn’t ask the viewer to contemplate and pinpoint its character’s exact backstories and motivations, or to decide where we think the role-playing games begin or end. Rather, it just asks us to observe the cloud of manufactured identity that complicates every single interaction we have. This isn’t a puzzle-box. It’s more like poetry.
"Like Someone in Love"
Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Release