The natures of love are a confusing and multi-dimensional thing as there is never one true way to express a love story, especially through the medium of cinema. The latest from director Abbas Kiarostami "Like Someone In Love" now available on DVD & Blu-Ray via the Criterion Collection shows us how some relationships can be formed under less than ideal circumstances and how the lies we tell ourselves can have some bad results.
"Like Someone In Love" revolves around the brief encounter between an elderly professor (Tadashi Okuno) and a sociology student (Rin Takanashi) who moonlights as a high-end escort. Dispatched to the old man by her boss; one of the professor’s former students, the young woman finds her latest client less interested in sex than in cooking her soup, talking, and playing old Ella Fitzgerald records. Eventually, night gives way to day and a tense standoff with the student’s insanely jealous boyfriend (Ryo Kase); but as usual in Kiarostami, nothing is quite as it appears on the surface. Are these characters who conjure in one another the specters of regret and roads not taken, meeting by chance, or is it fate? Is this love, or merely something like it?
Much like something a younger Alfred Hitchcock may have done back in the day, "Like Someone In Love" is a masterfully executed tale of melancholy as people strip down ad revel their bare truths. Through the use of long set shots, some brilliant framing and a very deliberate pace of holding on characters for an extended period of time, put us in the uncomfortable essence of reality as rather than a fantastic story about the multiple natures of love we get roped into the uncomfortable and questionable things that relationships and connections with other people make us do. It's a script that unfolds rather masterfully like a one act play that always keeps us engaged with an unexpected tension as this tale unfolds not knowing if we should be happy or sad or neither, mostly thanks to some wonderful performances from the cast in what is essentially a 3 person film.
In his first leading role in a film veteran Japanese stage actor Tadashi Okuno is an absolute wonder. His Takashi is that of a lonely man, yet a compassionate one who simply wants some company and the chance to spend some time with a beautiful young woman. As we see the layers of the film peel back we feel as their meeting may have been a little more than chance, but Okuno plays it sly always keeping us guessing. Rin Takanashi works wonders as Akiko the sociology major/call girl who simply wants to get some rest. She manages to be sexually alluring yet childlike and playful all at the same time, Kiarostami is always careful to maintain a certain level of innocence with the character and she does a wonderful job of selling that to the audience as she allowed Okuno's character to take care of her, which is all he really wanted to do anyway. Ryo Kase was very solid as Akiko's abusive boyfriend with delusions of marrying her. He brought as desperate delusion to the role as he insisted he wanted to marry Akiko, yet was in denial why he never saw her at night and worked those emotions through his manic expressions to a tee.
Admittedly, the third act falls apart a little bit as things get a little too coincidental at times, but "Like Someone In Love" is still a truly fascinating character study worthy of a watch.
4 out of 5 stars.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are simply top notch as the special features on this combo pack release include a 45 minute documentary on the making of the film, a brand new English subtitle translation and a booklet with an essay about the film by film scholar and critic Nico Baumbach.