Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone In Love (2012) is a divisive but charming film that follows Akiko (Rin Takanashi), a university student who also works as a prostitute. Akiko meets her client for the night: a man old enough to be her grandfather. The situation grows increasingly complicated as her fiance, who is unaware of her profession, becomes involved.
This film’s strength is its character development. In this very character-driven film, each actors’ performance is solid enough to balance all of the tension that is a direct result of the relationships between the main characters. I was immersed in Akiko’s world from the very beginning. My favourite thing about this film was the way it built tension between the characters in such a simplistic but powerful way, and also the performance of Tadashi Okuno as Takashi, Akiko’s much older client. From their first moments together, Takashi and Akiko have a relationship that is more like grandfather and granddaughter than sex worker and client. This relationship develops in, and is performed in, such a natural way that they almost seem like long-lost family.
The cinematography and shotmaking is also stunning, with long shots that draw you in. The camera seems to take in the entirety of a room or environment before taking in the characters. One of my favourite cinematographic choices was from the very beginning of the film, where we are introduced to Akiko when she’s on the phone with her boyfriend; the camera is pointed away from her, looking at everyone else in the bar, and we can only hear her fatigued voice begging her boyfriend to trust her. It is choices like these that make Like Someone In Love an interesting and engaging watch. The script and storytelling is also quite good, but it’s sparse, leaving several key gaps in Akiko’s story that the viewer almost has to deduce themselves. The dialogue is brilliant, however.
One divisive part of this film is its ending, which is incredibly abrupt. Without spoiling anything, it totally shakes you out of the experience of watching the film. I watched Like Someone In Love with a big group of people, and after it finished there was an uproar. We got into a big discussion about the endings of films, the ‘three-act’ structure of storytelling and filmmaking, and whether the ending ruined the film or not. The question also came up as to whether the film had any point, given the ending. I don’t think the ending ruined the film. There have been far worse film endings that have completely ruined the experience of a film for me. My personal answer to the second question is, of course the film has a point. It was frustrating that the film enveloped you with its character development and then ended without any major resolution, but hey, that’s cinema for you.
Like Someone In Love is an interesting and immersive drama. Despite its ending, it’s worth a watch for some masterful character development and amazing cinematography. If you’re uncomfortable with a lack of closure or ambiguous endings, this isn’t the film for you. This is for viewers who want to see a dramatic film that is a little bit different and unexpected.
Watch the trailer here.
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This film has been on my watch list since forever.. Glad to hear it’s good!
You’d better escalate it on the list, it’s definitely a good one!
Reviews like this are a reminder why I’m such a big fan of your blog. Not only well written and perceptive but of a film I haven’t heard of.
Thank you so much for the lovely words! 🙂
Sounds like I’d love it. I need to check this out.
Definitely! Would love to hear your take on it. I don’t think it’s for everyone.
A solid review! Though I generally can’t stand ambiguous endings, so yes… will avoid.
Thanks! Sometimes ambiguous endings can be really aggravating. But this one felt acceptable to me, for some reason!
Glad also to find someone else who found the ending a bit of a nuisance! That was the only thing that cost it a place in my top 10 films of 2013. Sounds petty I know but when you have a space limit and so many great films to consider something has to give. 😉
To al those thinking of skipping this film because of the ending, please don’t as you will miss out on a charming piece of filmmaking. 🙂
Thanks! And agreed – even though the ending is frustrating, you’d be missing out on a great film by skipping it entirely!
Shame that the ending cost this one a place in the top 10, but it’s understandable! 🙂 It was such an uncomfortable feeling.
I loved this film. Glad to hear there was an uproar among the people you saw it with. I saw it with a friend at a sold-out screening at the Chicago International Film Festival and instantly heated debates likewise broke out there immediately upon the film’s conclusion. I am a huge fan of Kiarostami though and more or less knew what to expect: ambiguous endings are his bread and butter!
Wow, I’m imagining a big theatre just exploding with conversation after the film ended! That’s pretty much what happened here, it was intense. I haven’t seen much of Kiarostami’s work but I’m definitely intrigued to see more! I really want to see Certified Copy, it sounds amazing.
That’s also specifically Abbas Kiarostami’s cinema for you. I think he has previous with this kind of tantalising unresolved ending, and if it provoked lots of debate then I presume that’s what he wanted, and it’s a good thing too, given how many films I’ve liked have been over and there’s nothing further to really think about. Anyway, nice review, good work, will look forward to reading more!
Thanks! 🙂 Sounds like Kiarostami is the ultimate cinema troll. I haven’t seen any of his other films, but if that’s how he likes his endings I’m interested to see more!