May 2012 (Festival de Cannes)
February 15, 2013 (United States)
France / Japan (Japanese)
Written and Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
"Like Somene in Love" is solely focuses on its characters like few stories can. Every decision behind and in front of the camera feels meant to be; it's meditated and designed yet as natural as anything.
Perhaps the less I say about "Like Someone in Love" the better. Words sometimes fall short when discussing a film and to say too much about the handful of scenes we witness here would be to clutter a film that is devoid of fluff. I stumbled upon a quote from Michael Haneke earlier today: "My favorite filmmaker of the decade is Abbas Kiarostami. He achieves a simplicity that's so difficult to attain." To my knowledge this is my first Kiarostami film and I am begging myself to not make it the last. A notable figure in the Iranian New Wave, Kiarostami has left his native country for stories in the past. This time is no exception. Set entirely in contemporary Tokyo over the space of some 18 hours, "Like Someone in Love" follows (in naturalism fashion) a Japanese call girl named Akiko (Rin Takanahi) during the course of a night and the following day. She is assigned to an elderly professor who mysteriously requested her accompaniment in his apartment, though not for her typical "services." Takashi (Tadashi Okuno) appears more interested in casual conversation than casual sex.
"Like Someone in Love" is straight-forward but ambiguous. You glean as much from the events that transpire as you would observing a stranger on the bus. I can think of only one occasion (when Akiko checks the several messages on her cell phone) that we're privy to additional information. The camera set-ups feel remarkable rehearsed. The first scene cuts between a shot/reverse shot in a restaurant, a front for call girls Akiko works with. The edges of the screen feel as exact as a photograph in a museum. Several minutes later a wider shot is shown and we see a character who has been hidden just outside the frame. There's a special bond between the actors and the filmmakers who all feel united in creating something so authentic and sincere.
Every set-up (camera) and line (character) should matter in a film, it's just so seldom that you actually notice and appreciate it. "Like Someone in Love" is a quiet masterpiece, with it Kiarostami has summoned a spiritual successor to the works of Yasujiro Ozu (e.g. "Tokyo Story"). Ozu might be telling stories of modern-day Japan just like this were he alive today. As the film ended a woman seated next to me exclaimed to her partner, "Why did he choose to end it there?" Another patron said a similar thing when I saw Michael Haneke's "Amour" at the same art-house last month. Maybe Haneke is attaining what Kiarostami is. It's simply perfect.
"What will be, will be."
CONTENT: some brief language and adult themes