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Like Someone in Love (2012) Movie Review: Stylish Abbas Kiarostami Love Triangle

Like Someone in Love movie Rin TakanashiLike Someone in Love movie with Rin Takanashi.
  • Like Someone in Love (2012) movie review: This Tokyo-set, French-Japanese production offers a stylish and intriguing look at a “love triangle,” courtesy of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami.

Like Someone in Love movie review: Sleek Abbas Kiarostami relationship drama purposefully leaves some of its questions unanswered

At age 72, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami is among the freshest and most energetic filmmakers working today. A forerunner of the Iranian New Wave, his ideas always intrigue without wandering aimlessly; his screenwriting is sparse, yet – no matter the language or setting – always rings true; his execution is stylistic, though mostly it’s just beautiful.

Besides, Kiarostami eschews containment in any form. He works on shorts, documentaries, and features that consider a range of topics, from students’ homework (in the 1989 documentary Homework) to the sociopolitical landscape of his native Iran.

His latest effort, the Japanese-language Like Someone in Love, which opens in New York City and Los Angeles on Feb. 15, is a proper addition to his canon: It’s lovely, stylish, and intriguing. The film poses questions it doesn’t always answer, leaving audiences with the sense of having watched a story deliberately unfinished yet deeply satisfying – at least for those who don’t require resolutions.

‘Copied’ relationships

Like Someone in Love picks up on the subject of Kiarostami’s Certified Copy, itself a work of genius. The 2010 release stars Juliette Binoche and William Shimell as a couple who meet in Tuscany and slip effortlessly into a relationship that isn’t real – while being very real.

In both Like Someone in Love and Certified Copy we experience “copies” – or substitutes – for other relationships. In both films the characters fall into their characters and their characters’ characters – and we fall along with them.

In both films the relationships resonate with an emotional depth that is equally true to the characters and to the audience, even as they, and we, know they’re only copies.

Personal connections not quite what they seem to be

Set in Tokyo, Like Someone in Love extends the notions proffered in Certified Copy, giving them another context and considering another possible outcome.

Akiko (Rin Takanashi) is a beautiful young woman; she’s a prostitute, student, girlfriend, and granddaughter. Takashi (Tadashi Okuno) is an elderly gentleman; he’s a man of some note, genuinely unassuming, slightly fragile, and a lonely widower.

Why Akiko, the young beautiful sex worker, comes to be in the company of Takashi, the lonely, elderly widower, is obvious and unremarkable. Even so, the process of getting us there is meticulously constructed of what might have been mundane details in a lesser filmmaker’s hands.

Abbas Kiarostami, in fact, makes the details captivating. Akiko and Takashi’s relationship, however obvious, is never what it seems. It isn’t even what it seems when it’s being what it is: That of a prostitute and her client. This is the point, of course; in other words, these delineations are only in our minds. But then again, that’s not the only point. Kiarostami is also thinking about consequences.

Like Someone in Love Rin TakanashiLike Someone in Love with Rin Takanashi. Initially titled The End, Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love was a Palme d’Or contender at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

No moralizing

Akiko has a jealous, hot-headed boyfriend, Noriaki (Ryô Kase), who thinks she’s only a student, with an elderly grandparent who comes to visit. He intends to marry her whether she wants to or not.

During an uncomfortable conversation between Takashi and Noriaki, the older man says to the younger one, “I’m just as much her grandfather as I am yours,” which is true, yet a lie. Ultimately, that declaration leads to all sorts of stunning, if not unexpected, consequences.

So it’s possible to look at Like Someone in Love with a scolding eye. We can scold Akiko for being a prostitute, for having a volatile boyfriend to whom she lies incessantly, for leaning on an old man for shelter when things go inevitably awry. We can scold Takashi for lying to Akiko’s boyfriend, for thinking he could protect her, for hiring a prostitute in the first place.

Kiarostami, however, does not scold. He sets his characters in motion and considers the possibilities.

Kiarostami trilogy in the making?

Abbas Kiarostami’s long filmography ranges from revelatory documentaries (the “docufiction” Close-Up, Five Dedicated to Ozu) to penetrating dramas (Taste of Cherry, The Wind Will Carry Us). It’s also more than occasionally touched by brilliance, if not outright genius.

The Report, for instance, is both. Starring a very young Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog, The Stoning of Soraya M.), this 1977 drama so offended the incoming regime that the camera negative was destroyed during the Iranian Revolution. Only tape masters shipped for foreign distribution still exist.

Lastly, there’s what has been called Kiarostami’s “Koker Trilogy,” which includes Where Is the Friend’s Home? (1987), And Life Goes On / Life and Nothing More… (1992) and Through the Olive Trees (1994) – though Kiarostami himself considers Taste of Cherry (1997) part of that trilogy. (Instead of Where Is the Friend’s Home?.)

In any case, along with Certified Copy, Like Someone in Love feels like a trilogy in the making. No doubt a director of Kiarostami’s eternal youth and thoughtfulness has a good deal more to say on the subject of these and many other films.

Like Someone in Love (2012) cast & crew

Direction & Screenplay: Abbas Kiarostami.

Cast: Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno, Ryô Kase, Denden, Mihoko Suzuki, Kaneko Kubota.

Cinematography: Katsumi Yanagijima.

Film Editing: Bahman Kiarostami.

Producers: Marin Karmitz & Abbas Kiarostami.

Production Companies: Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC) | Euro Space | MK2 Productions.

Distributors: Euro Space (Japan) | Sundance Selects/IFC Films (United States) | MK2 Diffusion (France).

Running Time: 109 min.

Country: Japan | France.


Like Someone in Love (2012) Movie Review” endnotes

Like Someone in Love movie credits via the IMDb.

Rin Takanashi Like Someone in Love movie images: IFC Films | Sundance Selects.

Like Someone in Love (2012) Movie Review: Stylish Abbas Kiarostami Love Triangle” last updated in September 2022.

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