The Reel Deal
LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE
A Reel Deal Film Review
By Tyler Malone
Reel Rating: 5 out of 5
“SOMETIMES THE THINGS I DO ASTOUND ME”
Abbas Kiarostami once said, “We can never get close to truth except through lying.” Which is likely why the filmmaker is a storyteller, for all stories are in some way or other lies. And the cinema, perhaps even more so than other storytelling mediums, peddles in fraudulence and trickery. This goes all the way back to the invention of movie magic with the parlor tricks of Georges Méliès. Trickery isn’t an inherently good or bad thing. Lies, remember, can be routes that drive us closer toward the truth.
M. Night Shyamalan plays tricks on us and we feel cheated (because his tricks are cheap tricks); Alfred Hitchcock plays tricks on us and we feel complicit in the cheat (because his cheats feel earned, as though we’ve been taken along on the ride); Abbas Kiarostami plays tricks on us and we feel like we’re cheating him (by not being an ideal movie audience). We feel like we cheat him because his tricks shouldn’t be considered tricks. He’s not trying to trick anyone, he’s trying to look at the world, at cinema, at narrative through a different lens. He defies our expectations (as if to remind us that we shouldn’t expect anything).
For example, we expect to know who is talking when we hear a voice in a film. We watch a scene where someone is talking and we expect to either see the person speaking and therefore connect the voice to the character, or we expect a voice to guide us into knowing the perspective of the voiceover (is it one of the characters on the screen or is it an omniscient narrator, etc.?). The first part of the opening scene in Kiarostami’s new film Like Someone In Love denies us this connection that we expect as moviegoers. We see people in a bar as a girl speaks. She’s not speaking to us as a narrator (this is no voiceover), she’s speaking to someone else (and it seems probable over time that she is on the phone). No one in the frame is on the phone, and no one’s lips are moving in sync with the words being uttered. It’s a bit discombobulating. Only after a time does Kiarostami finally reveal that the view we have of the room is the equivalent of the view the speaker has. She’s on the phone with someone she may or may not be in love with, and we see what she sees as she speaks to him. The first thing we see is somewhat of a trick, then, and the first thing we hear is a lie. She’s lying to her boyfriend over the phone, telling him she’s studying when actually she’s getting ready to go on an appointment as an escort.
What takes place in the subsequent scenes may be more straight-forward than those in Kiarostami’s last film Certified Copy–a film that seems almost impossible to give a synopsis of–and yet Like Someone in Love in actuality is as mysterious and ambiguous as his previous film. The best I can explain is that the film is about a girl and her relationship with two men (one older and one younger) with whom she may or may not be in love. Like Someone in Love almost acts as a realignment of Certified Copy‘s world–the freeform jazz reply to that operatic aria. It takes its name, in fact, from an Ella Fitzgerald record that the older man plays to the young girl during a scene in the film. The lyrics begin: “Lately I find myself out gazing at stars / Hearing guitars like someone in love / Sometimes the things I do astound me / Mostly whenever you’re around me.”
The movie itself is astounding. And that’s just it: watching Like Someone In Love is like being someone in love: being utterly engrossed in every turn it takes, paying attention to all its conscious and subconscious signs, and being enamored with its (outer and inner) beauty. Whether or not you understand all its mesmerizing moves, the film gets under your skin. Kiarostami has said, “I don’t believe a film is to be understood.” Neither is someone in love.
Like Someone In Love is a film written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami. It stars Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, and Ryo Kase. In Tokyo, a young prostitute develops an unexpected connection with a widower over a period of two days.
Written by Tyler Malone
Photography Courtesy of IFC Films
Design by Jillian Mercado
Film Still from Like Someone In Love, Photography Courtesy of IFC Films