Like Someone in Love – Movie Review
By Ron Wilkinson Mar 1, 2013, 14:20 GMT
In Tokyo, a young prostitute develops an unexpected connection with a widower over a period of two days. ...more
Slow and imperturbably bookish, this film slowly reveals the dark and threatening side of life in the big city.
Following up his “Certified Copy” with another masterwork of mis-en-scene, Abbas Kiarostami insists that the personal lives of people cannot hide from the ever encroaching world around them. The film emphasizes the right and natural tendency of people to have private thoughts, motivations that deny examination, or even logic.
At the same time, the writer/director cautions us that the outside world is only a heartbeat away. It is ignored by impassioned couples at their peril. The outside world will not go away, nor will it be put off past the crucial moment of intersection.
The film opens in a quiet restaurant in the inner city (apparently, Tokyo). The sleazy owner is talking to young, attractive Akiko (Rin Takanashi), a university student who moonlights as a call girl. They argue and the girl is on her way to her destination, a rendezvous with a client or with a lover, or perhaps with someone who is a bit of both.
After a long drive through an extraordinarily cold and inhuman cityscape, she is plunked down outside the home of Takashi (Tadashi Okuno), a retired professor, apparently living in the suburbs. From the outside, his home is a drab townhouse adjoining that of a busy-body neighbor woman.
As it turns out, the neighbor considers herself to be a past love of Takashi, although the professor never acknowledges her as anything beyond a vaguely annoying part of his environment. The neighbor misidentifies the call girl as the professor’s grand-daughter, beginning a series of escalating events wherein the outside world begins to move in and assault the relationship.
Inside the apartment, the interior is like the interior of a dean’s office at Oxford or Harvard. The dark wooden bookcases are filled with what appears to be the sum total of the world’s learning, a stark contrast to the dirty, noisy, dangerous freeways and impersonal taxicabs just outside. It is also a stark contrast to the unsettling allegations of the decrepit female neighbor who insists on insinuating herself into Takashi’s history.
As in Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy,” the background action varies from absurd to scary but is always impossible to ignore. The surroundings of the characters become, in effect, a third character. Every scene is composed of two persons talking plus the third character, the backdrop, having its way with their conversation.
Press notes indicate an inspiration for the film came from one of Kiarostami's visits to a city in japan. He was driving late at night (much of this film is shot in the depths of the night) and witnessed a young girl on the side of the street dressed as a bride. In later years, on visits to Japanese cities, he realized he was always looking for the same girl but that he would never likely notice her again because she wouldn't be wearing the same dress.
Although he felt a strange attachment to the girl, the setting, the dress, the street, the night was as much a part of his feeling as the girl herself. It is impossible to separate the person from the environment.
In the story “like Someone in Love” the world outside of the private relationship of Takashi and Akiko refuses to leave their relationship alone. Taking the girl to her university, the couple is confronted by the menacing Denden, Akiko’s jealous finance.
Although he, too, is a flawed individual, it is obvious that Akiko and Denden belong together. He is crazy about her and has the raw emotional and sexual drive that procreates the species and allows human survival in a world of competing organisms. In spite of the professor’s rich wood home and perfect book collection, the imperfect coupling of Denden and Akiko is the future of the world, not the spiritual; bond of Akiko and the professor.
This is not an easy film to watch. The action is slow at times and Kiarostami does not acknowledge the need to amuse or entertain in exchange for the price of admission.
The dark, inner city composition has an edgy cyber-punk gleam to it that will resonate with film noir buffs, a hidden martial arts threat beneath the surface of perfect Japanese manners. This film is film school and requires patience and attention to detail. Only the patient should take the on-ramp to this freeway.
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Directed and Written by: Abbas Kiarostami
Starring: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno and Ryo Kase
Release Date: February 15, 2013
MPAA: Not Rated
Run Time: 109 minutes
Country: France / Japan
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