Taste of Cherry

Movie Information

In Brief: Some movies are leisurely paced. Some are deliberately paced. Still others are glacially paced. They all are on the slow side — in varying degrees. Depending on where you land in it, Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry (1997) covers all the bases of slowness. And yet, I have to admit that it held my interest for its entire length. In essence, the film consists of Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) driving around the arid Iranian countryside trying to find someone who will bury him after he commits suicide. That's it. But there's something almost hypnotic about it, especially as the conversations with his various prospects increase in complexity. We never learn much about Mr. Badii — including the reason for his planned suicide — but that may be part of why the film works as well as it does. I wouldn't want to see it again any time soon, and I find its appeal limited, but I'd say it's worth at least one watch — assuming you have the patience. Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Taste of Cherry Friday, Nov. 28, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
Score:

Genre: Drama
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Starring: Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari, Mir Hossein Noori
Rated: NR

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Taste of Cherry marks the fourth Abbas Kiarostami film I’ve seen, and my immediate reaction is that it is the one I’ve liked the least. That’s a reaction, however, that is plagued with the suspicion that it may be the one that lingers in my memory the longest. As I noted in the lead-in, this is a slow film and the plot is summed up in that one line — a man drives around the Iranian countryside looking for someone who will agree to bury him after he commits suicide. Though he talks about being painfully unhappy, he never says why he wants to kill himself, nor does he make it clear why he’s obsessed with being buried. His approach is so enigmatic that most of the candidates for the job tend to think they’re being solicited for sex by some rich guy (he drives a Range Rover) cruising the area. Mostly what this results in are refusals and misunderstandings — and a lot of talk. At first this is frankly tedious, but as the film progresses, the talk becomes more interesting, the discussions deeper.

 

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Whether or not this works out — or how it works out — I leave to the film, but I found it increasingly compelling — almost against my will. As the film went on and the encounters became more interesting, so did Mr. Badii become more sympathetic and appealing. The truth is I’m only partly sure how Kiarostami managed this. Oh, I understand it’s in the way the film is structured and the change in scenery that accompanies his final encounter, but it’s so subtly done that you almost only perceive the change on a subconscious level. As filmmaking from a stylistic standpoint, this is very formal, very austere stuff, but somewhere underneath there’s a kind of alchemy going on.

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Taste of Cherry Friday, Nov. 28, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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6 thoughts on “Taste of Cherry

  1. Me

    Sounds like you’re on the edge with this one, you might want to rewatch it, because its definately a 4 stars and over film, and I’ve seen only four of his films as well.

  2. Ken Hanke

    I’ll probably hate myself for this, but…slower in what way?

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