REVIEW: “LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE” (dir. Abbas Kiarostami)
during NYFF last fall, i reviewed Kiarostami’s latest for Reverse Shot. “Like Someone in Love” hits theaters today (and VOD 2/21). SEE. IT.
Abbas Kiarostami is here to help. A titan of the Iranian New Wave and arguably modern cinema’s most provocatively self-reflexive auteur, Kiarostami understands that his narrative gamesmanship can be frustrating for viewers accustomed to movies with easy answers, but his films are so widely cherished in part because they encourage audience participation where lesser directors might simply punish casual spectatorship. In that light, it’s easy to appreciate the titles of Kiarostami’s films for their bluntly instructive nature. Certified Copy, for example, insistently returns the viewer’s attention to the subject of forgeries, even (and especially) during the film’s most romantic moments, while Through the Olive Trees explains precisely where to look during the movie’s pivotal and protracted final shot. Yet it’s Kiarostami’s newest film, Like Someone in Love, that might bear his most crucial and perfectly transparent title of all. An explicit nod to the immortal pop song composed by Jimmy van Heusen and Johnny Burke (sung in the movie by Ella Fitzgerald), the eponymous phrase resounds through the film’s every expression and elusive gesture, until the thought occurs so organically that you don’t even notice it’s been gift-wrapped: have any of Abbas Kiarostami’s characters definitively been anything?
In the aftermath of Like Someone in Love’s dicey Cannes premiere, Kiarostami explained: “It’s better to say that we are like someone in love rather than asserting that we are in love. Death or birth are definitive; love is nothing but an illusion. We have in this film four people who are like some people in love.” By now, it seems obvious that the creatures who populate Kiarostami’s films are either impostors, observers, and/or “real people” who are blithely unaware that they’ve been hijacked by a pointedly ambiguous meta-construct of some kind—even when Kiarostami summons other filmmakers to appear as themselves (Close-up), they are transformed into agents of his careful deception, deployed to convince the viewer of a reality that Kiarostami is using their celebrity to further obscure…