‘Like Someone in Love’ is the second film internationally acclaimed director Abbas Kiarostami has shot outside of Iran. It received mixed reviews at the 2012 Cannes festival with some critics riled by its abrupt ending.
I must confess that I am not very familiar with Kiarostami’s work so I was unsure what to expect. What I saw surprised and frustrated me in equal measure.
The film bends itself around a beautiful young girl called Akiko (played by Rin Takanashi), a sociology student who unbeknown to her family and mechanic boyfriend (Ryo Kase) works as an escort. One evening Akiko is sent to the home of an elderly professor, Takashi (Tadashi Okino). By this point in the film we all assume this meeting will be for sex. However, the interaction we observe appears to imply that the professor is seeking something beyond physical contact, perhaps something Akiko cannot offer him. And the lack of interaction we witness leaves the evening events open for our own interpretation. The following morning Takashi drives Akiko to her school where he sees an aggressive confrontation she has with her boyfriend. A fleeting moment of eye contact between the two men initiates an awkward conversation and Akiko’s double life begins to unravel.
Reading the above synopsis could make the film sound emotionally charged and fast paced. I assure you, it is anything but…
Conversations are started that are never finished. Jokes are told that are never understood. Things that should happen never do and unforeseen things that do happen are never questioned. With each interaction feeling like it takes twice as long to happen on screen as it would in real life it would be easy to find this film irritating. Surprising then that I, a self-proclaimed impatient person, was not perturbed. In fact, I found my emotions were soon immersed in the placid tone and my mind moving at the same snail jealous speed.
In my opinion the main aim of this film is not to present a story or construct a narrative. Instead it weaves themed threads of unfinished business and challenges the viewer to cope with it.
If you like your films with a clear beginning, middle and end then this is not one for you, but if you like to have pieces of the puzzle missing and interesting discussions with your friends about what they thought the significance of the shrimp soup was…? Then you should book your ticket now.
Words by Jay Stone
Image from Nippon Cinema