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Monday, July 1

Like Someone in Love

Ambiguity and multiple roles are the key, mutual elements that define director Abbas Kiarostami's movies Certified Copy and Like Someone in Love. But, whereas the previous picture was set in beautiful Tuscany, the latter is a modern Tokyo story of a young student, Akiko (Rin Takanashi) who is an escort sent to meet a former college professor,Takashi (Tadashi Okuno), on the very night her grandmother is visiting her. The relationship between the shy girl and the gentle, older man takes a sudden turn when Akiko's fiancee Noriaki (Ryo Kase) mistakes the elderly professor for his girl's grandfather.


Mistaken identity motif, role play and social norms are among Abbas Kiarostami's favourite, recurrent themes. In Certified Copy, Juliette Binoche and William Shimell played the roles of writer and fan, husband and wife, tourist and guide, whereas in his latest picture, shot in Japanese, with Japanese performers, the Iranian director builds an incredible story of visual beauty on the same dualism and switching roles. The old man is supposed to be a client in search for sexual favours, yet, upon making his acquaintance, he appears to be a gentle, elegant professor, very much involved in his academic life; the next day he turns into a helping grandfather-like figure who does his best to protect Akiko. Appearances are deceptive and the girl herself wears many hats: escort, student, fiance, niece in a game of truth and falsity. Again, where do we draw the line between the original and the copy?
Unlike the previous movie, where the ending could almost be felt, Like Someone in Love has an arbitrary, suspended, final scene, sweetened by the Billie Holiday song version that gives the title of the film. Another similarity between the two movies resides in the conversations characters have in moving cars, with slow dialogues, and oblique shots. Life as it is in Like Someone in Love is a succession of good or bad choices, of taking a participating approach or an observing gaze at things, of young people versus old people, of morality versus freedom. Abbas Kiarostami's cars are places of asking the right questions and revealing the painful truths and the viewer drives along the characters, in the back seat, in a make-believe state of mind.
  
This seems to be the director's view upon things: if something, either good or bad, is fated to happen, you cannot stop it from happening. Not even Mr Takashi, with his calm, elegant manner of behaving and looking at things, cannot predict the ways things will evolve or end up. People need to take every chance at creating meaningful connections, even for an instance, as no one can foretell the future. Noriaki's enraged, violent behaviour is like an authentic wake-up moment from the whole dream-like atmosphere of the movie. Insightful and soul-touching, this is a sensitive slice of Abbas Kiarostami's talent and creativity. One of the best movies of the year so far!