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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