Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s latest film, Like Someone in Love, once more finds the director working in a foreign country — this time, it’s Japan — and is even smaller in scale than his last film, Certified Copy (2011). In fact, there are those who will say that nothing happens in Like Someone in Love — and that’s not entirely untrue. While a good bit happens in the film, it mostly happens internally or offscreen. Just when it appears that the film is about to erupt into more traditional action, we have a single moment of shock — and the movie is over. This is a slender tale and a fragile little movie. From that description you can probably determine that the film is mostly going to appeal to a specific and relatively narrow audience. It also has the misfortune of opening locally during an already crowded art film run. In short, this poor movie is likely to get overlooked. And that’s too bad, because if you can meet Like Someone in Love on its terms, it has much to recommend it.
Like Someone in Love is a simple story — and one that takes a frustratingly long time setting itself up. Akiko (Rin Takanishi) is a call girl in Tokyo — a call-girl university student with an exceedingly jealous boyfriend, Noriaki (Ryo Kase), who is unaware of her second life. Much to her displeasure (she originally had plans to meet with her grandmother), Akiko is sent to entertain an elderly man in the suburbs. This turns out to be a retired professor and a still practicing academic named Takashi (Tadashi Okuno), who seems to be more desirous of company than sex. In fact — like much in the film — we never know whether or not the latter takes place. But in the morning, Takashi has clearly taken on a grandfatherly role — one that will enmesh him in the situation between Akiko and Noriaki. If I tell you much more than that, I’ll have told you the whole film — and yet I will have told you nothing. What happens in the film happens more within the characters than without. How well that works depends entirely on how much you feel you understand them.
Those familiar with Certified Copy will soon identify stylistic similarities. For example, Kiarostami seems to have an obsession with staging dialogue scenes through car windshields while the characters are moving. I suspect this is as much an attempt to keep us at a distance from the characters as it is a stylistic touch. Similarly, the characters here are even more opaque than those in Certified Copy. We can never be sure they present themselves as they are — or even as they think they are. Don’t misunderstand — the pleasures here are small yet haunting. If you can spare the time, this little movie is definitely worth a look. Not Rated
Starts Friday at Carolina Cinemas