Like Someone in Love | Movie review
Abbas Kiarostami’s chilly companion piece to Certified Copy is an elegant, less accessible piece of work.
Every moment in Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love involves misdirection, including the opening shot: We see a busy Tokyo club and hear a woman chatting on her cell phone—yet the director frames the scene so we can’t find her in the bustle. It turns out Akiko (Rin Takanashi) is arguing with her boyfriend. Unaware she moonlights as an escort, he nevertheless suspects something is up. Arriving late to the dustup, her pimp (Denden) assumes he understands what’s going on and sends Akiko to a client. But it soon becomes clear the sweet-natured Takashi (Tadashi Okuno), an elderly sociology professor, doesn’t share her expectations for the evening. Katsumi Yanagijima’s cinematography, emphasizing reflections in windows and mirrors, contributes to the sense both characters and viewers are seeing only refractions of the truth.
With scene after scene of mistaken identity, conversations at cross-purposes, and strangers treated as family or family treated with the high-handedness one might accord a stranger, Like Someone in Love can be read as a thematic companion piece to Kiarostami’s Certified Copy, which turns on a moment when a man and a woman are assumed to be married. But despite that affinity (and the fact that, as in his 2010 masterpiece, Kiarostami is working outside of his native Iran), Like Someone in Love is a chillier, less accessible piece of work. There’s more puzzle and less emotion, although the movie is as elegantly constructed in its symmetries as anything the filmmaker has made. (Even the visual style can’t be trusted; after a gorgeous nighttime first half, Kiarostami reverts to his signature device: drably shot dialogue in a car.) “When you know you may be lied to, it’s best not to ask questions,” Takashi says. Like Someone in Love seems to argue otherwise, as misunderstandings accumulate and, finally, the glass we’re watching is shattered.