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Beyond Fest '16: The Bad Batch

Like Someone in Love (2012)


Year: 2012
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Cast: Tadashi Okuno, Rin Takanashi, Ryo Kase
Country of Origin: France/Japan
Rating: NR
Time: 109 min

Like Someone in Love is quite a simple story about Akiko, a sociology student who moonlights as a high-end prostitute (Takanashi) one night and is assigned to Takashi (Okuno), a reserved and elderly former university professor, who is more interested in her company than than having sex. The premise is refreshingly straightforward which can also be irritating as the audience might patiently wait for the story to fully come around but doesn't even till the last second. But that is what is so appealing about the quaint story. Not that it is so uninvolved but because most of the story is taking place either out of the frame or through its composition.

Right from the beginning of the film, all we can see is the cafe and hear Akiko's incessant pleading conversation with her over-bearing boyfriend off-frame, who is apparently unaware of her after school job.  There is a romanticism that takes place even through what appears to be a bar for the prostitutes. The story glides into the darkness of the night and into the early mornings where most of the action takes place in a car. And as banal and colorless as that sounds, it is the most exquisitely shot car ride to ever be seen on the film screen that tells the story of isolation, mystery, and boundaries all through the composition. Never before has the frame of a shot been able to speak more volumes about the characters and story than the dialogue itself that truly makes one realize the power of filmmaking. There is a disquieting tenderness that streamlines the entirety of the film that elevates this strangely whimsical story to be more what is seen on the surface. 


Truth be told, I had not heard of Abbas Kiarostami before this film. Kiarostami is a prolific Iranian filmmaker whose been part of the Iranian New Wave and making headlines across the globe with his documentaries for many years. It wasn't until AFI FEST last year when I heard about Like Someone in Love that piqued my interest in him. An Iranian filmmaker making a Japanese film? Awesome! Like Someone in Love also competed for the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival. And it is a fact that Kiarostami is someone whose unrelenting talent will keep him in the film circuit for many years to come. Now, all I gotta do is play catch up. A

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