Search Film Reviews

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE Criterion Blu-ray Review

Courtesy of The Criterion Collection
Criterion Blu-ray Review
2012, 109 minutes
Not Rated

Review by Joshua Handler

Acclaimed director Abbas Kiarostami's 2012 film Like Someone in Love is finally being released on home media in the United States by The Criterion Collection.  The film, while flawed, is fascinating in its own right.  It tells the story of an elderly professor, Takashi Watanabe (Tadashi Okuno), who forms a connection with a young student, Akiko (Rin Takanashi), who's also a prostitute.  Kiarostami allows us to watch their relationship unfold over the course of two days.

Like Someone in Love is a slowly-paced, yet never boring, film that allows us to soak up each moment, and this movie is full of small, beautiful moments.  Kiarostami doesn't seem to be interested in plot points or cliché - he stays far to the side of cliché.  He seems to be more interested in the structure of plot.

Watanabe and Akiko both live lonely lives.  When we first open on Akiko, we see her in an upscale restaurant.  Her pimp is telling her to go to Watanabe while Akiko's jealous boyfriend questions her about where she is over the phone (he doesn't know about her work as a prostitute).  When we first see Watanabe, he's alone in a small, ordinary restaurant.  There are a few other people in the restaurant, but he's alone.  Akiko and Watanabe are two halves of one whole and need companionship.  Watanabe needs someone to care for.  He's been alone ever since his wife passed away.  Akiko's boyfriend is jealous and the only other companionship she gets is momentary and unnatural.

Through his long takes and simply-framed, yet active shots, Kiarostami allows us to explore and observe Akiko and Watanabe's friendship.  I was never quite invested in the relationship itself, but was invested in Watanabe.

While there is plenty to explore in Like Someone in Love, the film's ending seems contradictory to what came before and feels is out of place.  Given the pacing of the first 106 minutes of the film, it would be only natural for the final few to be similarly paced or to be at least thematically similar, but Kiarostami allows something to happen at the end that made the overall viewing experience unsatisfying.  Maybe that's Kiarostami's point, but I do not believe that the ending, in its current state, is appropriate.

Criterion's Blu-ray looks great, as always.  The sleek cinematography by Katsumi Yanagijima is highlighted by the beauty of the transfer.  In terms of special features, there is a 45-minute making-of featurette that's illuminating and well-worth viewing.  Kiarostami discusses his directorial decisions and we see how Kiarostami directed his actors in a language that he doesn't speak (he didn't always use the interpreter).  Also included is a theatrical trailer and an essay by film scholar and critic Nico Baumbach.

Overall, while not completely satisfying, Like Someone in Love is an interesting piece of work that will be required viewing for Kiarostami fans and Japanese cinema lovers.  While Kiarostami is Iranian and had never shot a film in Japan before Like Someone in Love, it is fascinating how distinctly Japanese in tone and theme this film is.  This Criterion edition is not a must-buy unless you're a fan of the film, and it is certainly not one I'd recommend as a blind buy, though I would recommend viewing the movie if only to discuss the ending with friends after.

Film: 3/4
Special Features: 2/4
Overall: Not a must-buy, but worth viewing

No comments:

Post a Comment