By Don Simpson | February 25, 2013
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Writer: Abbas Kiarostami
Starring: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, Ryo Kase, Denden
Writer-director Abbas Kiarostami (Certified Copy, Taste of Cherry) does not make simple films, his films are saturated with visual metaphors; the camera placement and mise-en-scène are just as important as any bit of dialogue, if not more so. Kiarostami has a sublime knack for layering images, utilizing reflective surfaces to create multiple dimensions on the screen, establishing visual juxtapositions or showcasing the duality of personalities.
This has never been as true as it is in Like Someone In Love. Nothing is ever quite what its face value suggests; we never know any of the characters. This is partially because Kiarostami blatantly rebels against the cinematic stereotypes of pimps, call girls and their clients. Going against our historical knowledge, Kiarostami gives us nothing to reference for background. Then, Kiarostami presents a meandering narrative about its characters’ identities, specifically their [mis]representations of themselves — like a warped mirror, Like Someone In Love shows us how the characters see themselves and each other. We never know their true selves.
Akiko (Rin Takanashi) is a call girl who is unlike any call girl I have ever seen in cinema. For one, she falls asleep on her client’s bed rather than eating the special soup that he has prepared for her. Yes, that’s right — Akiko’s client, Takashi (Tadashi Okuno), has prepared a soup that is native to Akiko’s home village. Takashi is old enough to be Akiko’s grandfather; he even adapts the persona of a protective grandfather when Akiko’s seemingly jealous and abusive fiancé (Ryo Kase) enters the picture.
We are never quite sure of anyone’s motives. The most we can surmise is that Akiko is probably working as a call girl to pay for her college tuition. Takashi’s motivations seem to be totally asexual; but, then again, he is never placed in a situation with Akiko that could develop into anything sexual. Takashi is purposefully secretive about his personal life and his history. His apartment is filled with books — he apparently works from home as a translator and we also learn that he taught a sociology class for the local police academy for one year. That’s it. As for Akiko’s fiancé, I do not think we can believe most of what he says about himself, but I have some doubts about Akiko’s representation of him as well.
With Like Someone In Love, Kiarostami adapts a slightly new personality as well, that of the well-seasoned patience of a Japanese director. On paper, Like Someone In Love‘s script may read like a western chamber piece about 24-hours of a call girl’s life; but Kiarostami adopts a far eastern perspective, luxuriating in the narrative’s sense of subtlety and quietness. A majority of Like Someone In Love takes place inside cars — even more so than most of Kiarostami’s oeuvre — sometimes using the small enclosed space as a pressure cooker of tension, other times forcing the characters to be in a constant state of motion to highlight their nebulous personas. Like Someone In Love begins (and ends) in medias res, and seems to exist in the relatively tranquil space within a more turbulent narrative. Very little seems to happen during the 109-minute run-time; as soon as the tension does begin to reach a crescendo, Kiarostami rolls the end credits (which are nicely soundtracked to “Like Someone In Love” by Ella Fitzgerald). Well played, sir.