|LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE (director/writer: Abbas Kiarostami; cinematographer: Katsumi Yanagijima; editor: Bahman Kiarostami; cast: Rin Takanashi (Akiko), Tadashi Okuno (Takashi Watanabe), Ryo Kase (Noriaki), Denden (Hiroshi), Mihoko Suzuki (the Neighbor), Kaneko Kubota (Akiko’s Grandmother), Hiroyuki Kishi (Old Student), Reiko Mori (Nagisa), Kouichi Ohori (the Taxi Driver), Tomoaki Tatsumi (the Auto Mechanic), Seina Kasugai (Nagisa’s Friend); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Marin Karmitz/ Kenzo Horikoshi; Criterion Collection; 2012- France/Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)|
plays out as an homage to Ozu family dramas."
by Dennis Schwartz
film is titled after Ella Fitzgerald's jazz soundtrack
song. It's Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami' ("Taste
of Cherry"/"Close-Up"/"Through the Olive Trees")
unofficial sequel to Certified Copy, the other film he
shot outside Iran. "Like" was filmed in Japan, with an
all-Japanese cast, even though the filmmaker speaks no
Japanese. It superbly plays out as an homage to Ozu
family dramas, but with a much darker side to life
revealed though not as deep a look into human nature.
Tokyo, Akiko (Rin Takanashi) is
studying sociology in college and moonlights part/time
as a high-end call girl to pay her tuition.
Reluctantly she must go to the Tokyo suburbs of
Yokohama on an assignment by her pimp Hiroshi
(Denden), who runs a cafe. Aki's in his busy cafe with
her best friend (Reiko Mori)
when she abruptly ends a hostile cell phone
conversation with her overbearing boyfriend Noriaki
(Ryo Kase), who accuses her of
lying. Aki wishes to go home to study for her next day
exams and also meet sometime with her visiting
grandmother (the voice of Kaneko Kubota),
from her rural hometown. Granny left
a number of messages on her cell phone of her surprise
one-day visit. Unable to get out of her call girl
assignment, Aki's driven to her important client by
taxi. The john turns out to be a gentle 80-year-old
widowed retired sociology professor and translator, Takashi
Watanabe (Tadashi Okuno, noted
stage actor), once the teacher of the pimp, who
bonds with the self-absorbed Aki as a protective
grandfatherly figure. The lonely widow, living in an
apartment filled with books and art, is estranged from
his family. He's more interested in communicating with
her than sex, while she's more interested in sleeping.
The next morning the professor gives her a ride to her
college in his luxury Volvo and on the campus he
crosses paths with her volatile boyfriend, the
confused and jealous possessive young garage owner who
wants to marry her despite her indifference. Noriaki
assumes Takashi is her grandfather and when no one
corrects his mistake, he opens up his heart to the
supposedly wise old man. When the expert judo fighter
Noriaki later learns the
truth he acts extremely emotional, as if he was
someone in love who was betrayed and is victimized by
her lies. The film ends on a shocking act of violence,
that comes out of the blue and is left open to the
viewer is forced to suspend his/her moral biases to
conclude what they want from the actions of the trio.
They will get no help in learning more from the
spectator-like filmmaker, who would rather the viewer
see things their own way.
It's an accessible but puzzling melodramatic love story pointing out the dangers of role playing and of being unaware of others, that is buried in enigmas, ambiguity and the knowledge that not everything is always what it seems. The Ella lyrics sung over the end credits blurt out its love theme in song: "Sometimes the things I do astound me/Mostly whenever you're around me/Lately, I seem to walk as though I had wings/Bump into things/Like someone in love."
REVIEWED ON 6/19/2014 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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