Like Someone in Love
Film Title: Like Someone in Love
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Starring: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno
Running Time: 109 min
Something odd has happened to Abbas Kiarostami since he left Iran and lighted out for the wider cinematic territories. The septuagenarian’s most playful tendencies (never that deeply buried, if we’re honest) have been liberated and he has started to make films that look like the work of a younger director raised on vintage Kiarostami.
Though weighed down by at least one self-regarding performance, Certified Copy played interesting games with narrative expectations and gender relations. Like Someone in Love, shot in and about Tokyo, is even livelier on its feet. If you were told the film was by some Japanese Abbas-obsessive, you wouldn’t be in the least surprised.
The plot ambles organically like one of the director’s earlier classics. We follow Akiko (Rin Takanashi), a university student who also works as a prostitute, as she is dispatched to the home of an elderly university lecturer (Tadashi Okuno) on the outskirts of the city. Their encounter is friendly, uncomfortable, a little unsettling. By the next morning, in an unlikely development, they seem to have become friends. For all the inappropriateness of their original meeting, they can’t quite stop themselves from behaving like grandfather and granddaughter. Indeed, when they eventually encounter Akiko’s horrid boyfriend, he assumes that is their relationship.
Like Taste of Cherry and so many Kiarostami films – and this week’s Before Midnight, which surely takes a nod in his direction – a surprising amount of Like Someone in Love takes place in the front seat of a car. The director is obsessed with deceptions that emerge when otherwise honest people are pressed together by circumstances or by society.
The new film is, however, also much in love with its location. Shot in fluid colours by Katsumi Yanagishima, a frequent collaborator with Takeshi Kitano, Like Someone in Love offers a more varied depiction of Tokyo than we have come to expect from visiting film-makers: neon nightscapes, distant suburbia, sedate academia. After a long meander, it walks its shaggy dog towards an ending that – hilarious in its suddenness – with delight as many as it will annoy.